Maria (15) wants an abortion, but that is illegal.

Maria (15) wants an abortion, but that is illegal. © rr

This film about the fate of women in Chad could have been a little less literal.

Ruben Aerts

Today at 16:23

Mahamat-Saleh Haroun remains concerned about the situation in his native Chad, even though he has lived in France for 40 years. Highly engaged films like Dry season in A screaming man showed how he cares about the fate of those who live there. Five years ago, Haroun was even Minister of Culture there for a year.

The situation remains precarious, not least for women. Of Languages he first discusses their situation. But it is also his toughest film, with neatly stacked complications and a moral that he formulates too emphatically. As if engagement cannot bear poetry.

At the center is Amina, the single mother of 15-year-old Maria. They live like pariahs in a country where faith dictates the law. Maria faces a disowned existence now that she unexpectedly turns out to be pregnant. The girl wants an abortion, which is illegal in Chad. Amina finds her daughter’s decision as justifiable as it is problematic.

Haroun presents a sober story about the need for connection. Patriarchy stands in the way of equality and freedom. But the premeditated intrigue of this well-intentioned film, nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes, hindered our involvement.

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