Satin Rouge (Red Satin) (2002)
Director: Raja Amari
There are some films whose appeal lies in your personal interest in the subject matter. Satin Rouge is about belly dancing and the liberation a middle aged woman experiences performing it. Lilia is a widow who has shut herself away, and pores her energy into looking after her teenage daughter Salma, who is becoming distant. She follows the man Salma is secretly seeing one night, and ends up at a cabaret, a place she finds herself being drawn back to. By degrees she tries on the costumes and eventually dances for the audience, and even flirts (and more!) with the musician who is Salma's boyfriend.
While I am not a middle aged or have a daughter, I began belly dancing around eight years ago, and instantly fell in love with it. It not only added to my dance repertoire (I had already been doing ballet and jazz for thirteen years), but solved a few of my self esteem issues.
There are not many films about belly dancing, and when it does feature, it is almost always about the way the audience sees it: exotic and sexy. Satin Rouge focuses more on the experience of the dancer, highlighting the fun and joy of the movements. The plot is less strong, and goes into questionable territory when Lilia sleeps with Salma's boyfriend (he doesn't know Lilia is Salma's mother), but Hiam Abbass is great as Lilia. I did enjoy this, particularly the soundtrack, which had me itching to get up and dance. If you are not ensconced in the world of Raq Sharki, there are still parts to enjoy (the dancing), but don't expect a great deal from the story.