From Cannes: ‘Sofia’ is a Taut Commentary About Society’s Treatment of Women

In Moroco it is illegal to have sex out of wedlock. Unmarried Sofia (Maha Alemi) suddenly discovers she is pregnant just before her waters break. With the authorities closing in around her she must reveal the father before she can receive medical treatment. However, the secret could destroy two families.

Sofia is a critique of a social structure that rigidly disadvantages women and punishes victims of circumstance. The frustration felt by the characters as their options fall away is palpable. The film is also a family drama that effectively unveils plot twists that constantly force you to re-evaluate the characters and their intentions.

Maha Alemi gives an enigmatic performance as the struggling new mother with at least one secret. Her physicality is that of exhaustion and anger. The rest of the cast offer naturalistic performances but the actor portraying Sofia’s unwitting co-parent is superbly volatile.

Writer-Director Meryem Benm’Barek keeps the camera focussed on the characters but allows the oppressive beauty of the city to surround them. The initial horrible night of the drama is suffocating.

Sofia is a taut social commentary that is full of surprises.

3 / 5

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