#TIFF23: “SISTERHOOD” REVIEW
By David Baldwin
Middle schoolers Amina (Léah Aubert), Djeneba (Médina Diarra) and Zineb (Salma Takaline) have been best friends since childhood, despite their difference in economic, racial and social backgrounds. At a birthday party, Zineb tells her friends that her older brother’s friend Zak (Oscar Al Hafiane) has been sexually harassing her. The girls get an instance on camera and when Amina decides to post it online without letting her friends know, it sets off a world of trouble they never could have expected.
SISTERHOOD is an incendiary and bold feature debut from Writer/Director Nora El Hourch. It captures that not-so innocent dynamic between adolescent males and females perfectly, and is provocative in the moral quandaries it explores (specifically with social media). It is undoubtedly a feminist piece and brings up #MeToo, yet feels like a post #MeToo examination where things are supposed to have changed for the better. Except they really have not and SISTERHOOD feels all the more lived-in and authentic because of it. While some may take El Hourch to task for how she depicts her male characters, she does not go easy on her female characters either. And while the progression of time is not always clear, she guides the Film’s complicated thesis with top-tier precision.
The core trio of Aubert, Diarra and Takaline are terrific in their roles, showcasing a veritable kaleidoscope of emotions that grow stronger with each passing moment. They command the screen together and apart, easily stealing moments from seasoned vets like Mounir Magroum and Oscar-nominee Bérénice Bejo. And credit where credit is due, Al Hafiane is very good at playing the kind of slimy shit weasel that makes your blood boil. A scene between him and Takaline late in the Film is a masterclass in restraint and tension. It will leave you just as angry as you are amazed.
SISTERHOOD screens at TIFF ’23:
Monday, September 11 at 2:30 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox
Wednesday, September 13 at 3:35 PM at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto
Saturday, September 16 at 12:15 PM at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto