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How One International Netflix Original Gave Me All the Feels

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By Manuela Domingos

If you’re like me, you love a good film. You may also happen to love Netflix.

Recently, I indulged in a series of documentary sprees and Netflix originals. I must say though, I think we all have been sleeping on the international films.

Recently I watched Divines, a great French film by Houda Benjamin set in Paris, France.

Oulaya Amamra plays the character of Dounia, a teenager who lives in poverty with her family in the most destitute of places in France, resembling something like the slums in the rural areas of Southern Africa. 

Through their quest to find riches, Dounia and her best friend Maimouna begin working for a female drug dealer. 

What then follows is a poignant coming of age story laden with the themes of friendship, pain, religion, chaos, and even the possibility of falling in love.

I don’t want to insert any spoilers, as I recommend anyone reading this article to check out the film.

But I do want to comment that this film is particularly beautiful not only in its content, but also in the artistic element of its cinematic sequence.

A stark contrast between American and European films has always particularly been the subject of my observation every time I watch a film.

As someone who enjoys traveling and has immersed themselves in European culture, I must admit that there is something particularly poignantly dark and erotic about a French film. In the case of Divines, these elements seeped through every context, providing not only a tear-jerking experience, but also a visually captivating montage.

Benjamin does not solely rely on the story line to speak this visually captivating montage. Literally, through the shape of her character’s bodies, she heightens this experience by using their significant talents.

Kevin Mischel, who plays Djigui in the film, uses the excellence of his craft through dance. The fluidity of his body throughout the film blesses us with that simplistic yet complexed visually pleasing array: it’s slightly erotic, plain, yet beautifully executed.

Through the dark shape of the story, we are at times provided with a breath of relief by watching his excellence effortlessly slide across the stage. To simply describe it: it’s like watching the process of a painting in its creation.

One thing I particularly also love about the film is its refreshing racial solidarity. This is the case for many French independent films that I have watched. Unlikely pairs are far from superficial, characters form amazing chemistry through their acting rather than their outside appearances. This is what makes it even more exciting and enjoyable to watch. Chances are, there’s always a person that looks like you. It’s relatable.

Want to keep up with Manuela? Follow her on Instagram, @_manuelad!