MABROUK EL MECHRI
100 minutes, Color
A romantic chance meeting in a North African village grows into something quite different for Zohra (Sabrina Ouazani) and Omar (Ramzy Bedia) after a few years of marriage in the Paris suburbs. Now Zohra wears sunglasses to hide her bruises. But there is a child to consider, and Omar is the quintessential loving father/abusive husband. Taking a job at a gym, Zohra meets a Chinese kung fu master (Tien Shue) who has one word for her: "Kitchen." A stern if enigmatic teacher, he senses the stakes for Zohra. With her supple physical prowess and deep-throated laugh, Ouazani is as convincing a kung fu student as we could want to root for as she trains for what we know (from every kung fu film ever) is coming. A feel-good film about domestic abuse may seem incongruous, but director Mabrouk El Mechri strikes the balance in this audience award-winner at the International Film Festival Rotterdam.—Judy Bloch
In French with English subtitles
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