Doillon and the dialectic of emotions
- Differences in language, culture and position win the day over male-female relationships in Raja, the first film presented at Venice 60, set within the city of Marrakech
The dialectic of emotions has always featured in the cinema of Jacques Doillon, the French director who has been making films for more than 30 years. Once again, it is a dominant element in his latest film, Raja, being presented in competition at Venice. But this time the male-female relationships are more complex, because they are also bound up with the themes of difference in language, culture and position, in this case the master-servant dynamic.
This French-Moroccan co-production stars Pascal Greggory and Najat Bessalem. It’s a story of seduction, and the nature of love between a middle-aged, rich Frenchman and a young Moroccan girl, who works as a prostitute every now and then to help make ends meet. Most of the film is set in the beautiful villa owned by the Frenchman, who gives Raja a job on his staff, thus starting up a situation that has a somewhat uncertain outcome. The differences in language, culture, wealth and position create an infinite series of misunderstandings and these win the day over the subtle communication made through exchanges of glances and body language.
In France the film has been accused of supporting prostitution. “I don’t feel it has gone down that path at all– replied Doillon – “I wanted to describe comic, human characters, with their qualities, their difficulties and also their weaknesses”.
(Translated from Italian)
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