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click for full sized poster

Hideous Kinky

Starring Kate Winslet and Said Taghmaoui
Screenplay by Billy MacKinnon
Directed by Giles MacKinnon
website: www.hideouskinkymovie.com

IN SHORT: Must've been a great book.

Cranky wishes he had the strength to keep track of how many times he's had the above feeling about a movie he's just seen because he gets this feeling a lot. He gets it every time he sees a movie set in a foreign land; a "Stranger in a Strange" place scenario which moves from location to location and from plot point to plot point so quickly that you have no time to relate to or empathize with the characters on screen.

Such is the case with Hideous Kinky, from a book about the true life experiences of a little girl whose mother took her and her sister from a "boring" life in London to an exotic life in Morocco in the early 1970s. With Kate Winslet as star and centerpoint of the movie, we don't view the setting as anything exotic or magical, as a child would. Instead, it's a battle for survival with bits and pieces of love and mysticism and lots of scenery.

When we first meet Julia (Winslet) and daughters Bea (Bella Riza), who is 8, and Lucy (Carrie Mullan), six, it is a year into their journey. Julia has desires to commune with a mystic Sufi wise man but, with support checks from her husband in London few and far between, she's stuck selling hand made dolls to other Western tourists on the streets of Marrakech. There are other Western hippie-like visitors in the area. There are lots of scenes of local color during which we are introduced to Julia's love interest, named Bilal (Said Taghmaoui). The relationship is terribly underdeveloped. The timing of the relationship is totally up in the air - are we seeing their first meeting? If so, the relationship happens way too fast, even for the freewheeling 70s. Has there been a growing dependency over the year that happens before the credits? If so, it isn't indicated.

Bilal sees Julia as his gold ticket - "All Europeans are wealthy," he says. Bilal quits his job to live off of Julia's checks at the same time as those checks stop arriving. So we're off to the mountains, to Bilal's hometown. Then back to Marrakech. We park with other, much wealthier, European residents (and all we see is not to be believed). All the while it is the eldest child who attempts to keep Mum on the planet, insisting that she be allowed to go to school, as she would if she were still at home. Bea's determination to stay grounded in one place should lead to some high drama, but it doesn't. You are rushed through so much local color and been exposed to so many insignificant supporting characters (local prostitutes, tourists, hippies, and so on) that you don't get time to develop a great understanding or feeling for the characters. The bigger failure is the relationship between Winslet and Taghmaoui. There is sex but there is no passion between the two characters. It has to be that way to make the outcome of the story work.

For the life of me, I can't explain why this movie is called Hideous Kinky. The two little girls play with the words; they obviously mean something to them, but I have no idea what that may be.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Hideous Kinky, he would have paid...

$2.00

You can rent Hideous Kinky as a travelogue for the scenery, but not for much more, though Lucy (the younger child) has Emily Watson's eyes. One of these days she'll be cast as a daughter.

Click to buy Hideous Kinky:     VHS     DVD
  Click to buy films starring Kate Winslet

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2016   by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.