GIRLS OF THE SUN – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

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Anyone who craves big-screen depictions of strong females defying victimhood and stereotypes as they rise up against men who oppress, abuse, rape and torture women in times of war will find value and emotional sustenance in director Eva Husson’s Girls of the Sun. That is in spite of the fact that this tale inspired by Iraqi and Syrian women who escaped their Islamic fighters and kidnappers while becaming warriors is a bit of a muddle as flashbacks and-current day scenes fail to fully blend into a coherent narrative that could benefit by a more propulsive edit and a less noisy and pounding musical score.

That said, it is intriguing to see women in the heat of battle while wielding guns to take out the enemy. As veteran French war reporter Mathilde, Emmanuelle Bercot fills a typically male role as she flaunts her eye patch – the result of shrapnel and a testament to her devotion to getting the truth out there – and nails the world-weariness of her profession. But she can’t hold a candle to the main reason to see this somewhat flawed film – Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani as Bahar, the mesmerizing and fearless leader of an all-female Kurdish battalion of former captives turned warriors as they attempt to take back their village.

Her natural beauty is secondary to her bad-ass commitment to her mission, as seen in three scenes that are standouts: A taut and tense sequence as she silently leads the way through an underground tunnel where the enemy could be around any corner; another where she answers the ringing cellphone of a man she just killed and tells the male caller that his brother won’t be ascending into paradise because he was killed by a woman; and when one of her soldiers is about to go into labor as escape is nigh and she tells off a male escorting them to safety who gripes about the infant’s arrival, “You can explain to the baby that its timing is bad.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Girls of the Sun is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for April 12, 2019

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Susan Wloszczyna

In her nearly 30 years at USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. Her coverage specialties include animation, musicals, comedies and any film starring Hayley Mills, Sandy Dennis or hobbits. Her crowning career achievements so far, besides having Terence Stamp place his bare feet in her lap during an interview for The Limey, is convincing the paper to send her to New Zealand twice for set visits, once for The Return of the King and the other for The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, and getting to be a zombie extra and interview George Romero in makeup on the set for Land of the Dead. Though not impressive enough for Pulitzer consideration, she also can be blamed for coining the moniker "Frat Pack," often used to describe the comedy clique that includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. Her positions have included Life section copy desk chief for four years and a film reviewer for 12 years. She is currently a senior editor for the online awards site Gold Derby. Previously, she has been a freelance film reporter and critic, contributing regularly to RogerEbert.com, MPAA’s The Credits, the Washington Post, AARP The Magazine online and Indiewire as well as being a book reviewer for The Buffalo News. She previously worked as a feature editor at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A Buffalo native, she earned her bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College and a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.