Satin Rouge

While looking for her teenage daughter in a cabaret, a widowed seamstress (Hiam Abbas) befriends a belly dancer and winds up becoming a popular dancer herself in this sensual Tunisian feature about self-discovery. Writer-director Raja Amari, who grew up watching Egyptian musicals and once studied belly dancing, seems more interested in the film’s nervy female-empowerment fantasy than in depicting a social milieu in any detail, but that’s OK with me. Similarly, Abbas often comes across more as a performer than as an actress, but her beauty, her authority as a dancer, and the obvious pleasure she takes in her craft wind up counting for more than dramatic skill. In short, I never quite believed the story, but this movie is more about feeling than thinking. In Arabic with subtitles. 99 min. (JR)

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