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Osama /

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Marina Golbahari, Mohamad Nader Khajeh, Zobeydeh Sahar, Mohamad Araf Harat, Zubaida Sahar

Directed by: Siddiq Barmak

Produced by: Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Siddiq Barmak, Julia Fraser, Julie LeBrocquy
Written by: Siddiq Barmak
Distributor: United Artists


Movie Image

Movie Image

The Following is a Capsule Review:

     The Taliban. They are probably the most terrible, horrifying group of men that the world has ever seen, right up there with al-Qaeda and the Nazis. But, somehow, the director of Osama, Siddiq Barmak, manages to minimize the impact of the sheer terror that they create. Yes, I suppose that I’d call Osama a realistic hardship of a picture, but I’d also call it a pretty awful one, too. A director should never lose sight of his movie’s plot, characters, and themes, in favor of painting his subject matter with a second coat of finish. Osama seems too polished to feel real, and is therefore stripped of any of the meaning it could’ve had. This had the chance to be the first great Afghani picture I’d ever seen, but instead, it’s a superficial, detached, and anticlimactic one.

     Marina Golbahari plays a little girl in Afghanistan, under the clutches of the Taliban, as they violate many citizens in her city. However, because girls cannot work there, she is not able to earn a living for her small family, which is comprised of her, her mother, and her grandmother. Money is non-existent, and they are impoverished. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Posing under the name Osama, she goes to work, dressed as a young boy. However, the plan backfires when she is recruited, along with hundreds of other boys, to fight for the Taliban.

     Up until this point, Osama is executed with mastery, taking no prisoners in a daring depiction of life in Afghanistan. The last thirty minutes are just plain terrible, though, destroying the perfect setup. The final act isn’t necessarily bad because of its material, though. The reason Osama is an undeserving picture is because Barmak ends it in a disappointing way. If he had stuck with every scene in this cut, but added another thirty minutes of concluding material, it would’ve enhanced the motion picture dramatically. Osama is only eighty-two minutes long; additions would’ve been easily achievable, without it becoming boring.

     The project always has a stark feeling about it, too. Whether a filmmaker is attempting to be a realist or not, they must institute creativity in their project. Osama is a strictly by-the-numbers movie—don’t let the beautiful, sweeping, artsy camera-work fool you. Yet another missed opportunity to be added to 2004’s lengthy list, Osama is just about as bland as they come. As far as all of the rave reviews on it are concerned, I am baffled by critics’ opinions this time around.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews (5.18.2004)

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