Honey cigar: a beautiful tale of female emancipation [critique]

A film carried by the remarkable intensity composition of Zoé Adjani

How do you take ownership of your own desire, faced with worrying parents who are suffocating and a loving boyfriend who is too impatient? This is the question that crosses this first feature whose action takes place in 1993, at the heart of the Algerian black decade. Selma, 17, lives with her family of Berber origin in Neuilly and sees her cocoon crack. Starting with the family balance where, faced with what is happening in Algeria, his father and mother are divided on the behavior to be taken: to settle there as an act of resistance or to remain wisely in France? The story of emancipation that Kamir Aïnouz offers here is therefore placed on a double ground, intimate and political, to remind us that, for any teenager, the right to freely dispose of their body belongs only to them. The story is based on characters never Manichean, loving certainly but awkward in their love, castrating without noticing it. And the filmmaker tackles the question of the body head-on, as in this violent scene where Selma decides to free herself from her virginity with a cucumber. Everything around her seems liberated and modern. But everything in the facts shows the opposite.

In this role, Zoé Adjani impresses with her ease in wandering around the multitude of contradictory feelings her character experiences. She recalls the quiet power of Lyna Khoudri in Papicha and Zbeida Belhajamor in A story of love and desire. Even if Honey cigar appears less mastered, especially in its second Algerian part, too didactic, without harming the whole building.

By Kamir Aïnouz. With: Zoé Adjani, Amira Casar, Lyes Salem …. Duration: 1h40. Released on October 6, 2021

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