Hideous Kinky (1998)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Adventure Drama, Family Drama, Period Film  |   Release Date - Oct 2, 1998 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - France , United Kingdom , Morocco   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Brian J. Dillard

Hideous Kinky offers a refreshingly laid-back look at life in the North African nation of Morocco. Maybe the film's tone reflects the hippy leanings of its protagonist. Perhaps it's a reaction to the overly mythological treatment the country and its most famous city, Marrakesh, have received in Beat literature and in movies such as The Sheltering Sky. Either way, the film paints a grounded portrait of Western individualism in conflict with the sometimes harsh laws of the developing world -- and with its own contradictions. Laying the foundations for her next major role (in Holy Smoke), Kate Winslet balances enlightenment-seeking self-involvement with can-do jolliness and fierce maternal instincts as the privileged young woman who drags her children off to the desert. Bella Riza and Carrie Mullan successfully project the precocious personae of kids forced to parent their own parents, while Said Taghmaoui brings rakish charm and unexpected vulnerability to the role of Winslet's dubiously employed paramour. If the conflicts between Winslet's Julia and the sometimes hostile Moroccan women she encounters seem to generate cheap humor rather than real questions about the nature of cultural imperialism, well, it helps to note Hideous Kinky is set in the 1970s. Self-fulfillment at any cost was the tenor of the times, and in the end, at least, the film refuses to hold Julia blameless for her selfishness.