Girls of the Sun (original title: Les filles du soleil) is a fictional story based on real events. When creating this film, director Eva Husson was inspired by the bravery of female Yazidi fighters who dared to take on ISIS invaders in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Throughout the movie, we follow a Kurdish female battalion as they prepare to take back their town from extremists. The story is seen through a French journalist’s eyes, who becomes the guide and narrator into telling the stories of these women.
The main character, Bahar, is played by Golshifteh Farahani. She was a lawyer before being taken hostage by ISIS, raped and tortured. Her husband was killed, and her son was taken away from her. Now, she leads a battalion of women who suffered the same fate as she did, and their aim is to take back her hometown. Singing “Women, Life, Liberty,” their unique advantage is the jihadists’ belief that any fighter killed by a woman will be denied entry into heaven.
The French journalist who follows Bahar is called Mathilde and is played by Emmanuelle Bercot. She also lost her husband and hasn’t seen her daughter in a long time. This character wears an eyepatch and was inspired by American journalist Marie Colvin, who worked as a foreign affairs correspondent for the British newspaper The Sunday Times from 1985 until her death. She died while covering the siege of Homs in Syria.
Girls of the Sun has split the opinion of critics. Some think it was too dramatic (how can you make a war film not dramatic?); some complain the score was too much or even say that it exists in a cultural vacuum.
Toby Woollaston, film reviewer for NZME regional media, writes that Girls of the Sun does seem to lose focus at times because it has too many stories to tell. Its style bounces between a taut gritty war tale and melodrama. Nonetheless, stresses Woollaston, Husson’s confident approach, if occasionally overbearing, built enough suspense and sympathy to get him swept up in the film’s cause.
Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw, on the other hand, describes Girls of the Sun as heartfelt, forthright, and muscular. He writes that the film halts with these women’s provisional victory, and while it may seem naïve, there is naivety in believing there is no plausible way of showing good triumphing. Girls of the Sun, according to Bradshaw, is partisan, and it wears its heart on its sleeve: a powerful, forceful story.
After watching the film, I must say I was completely overwhelmed by it. I am happy I watched it before reading the reviews, some of which, in my opinion, were nitpicking the film.
I have watched and reviewed many movies throughout my work, but this one felt very raw. The story makes you angry and makes you want to fight for justice for these women. In the end, Bahar tells Mathilde to tell the truth. And that is what she does. She describes what is happening to these women and how they turned their fear into a fight. That is what I believe Husson is trying to show with this piece, and I think she achieved what she wanted, despite the criticism she received.