Some say it’s a drama filled with an overload of many action sequences, but other viewers might believe GIRLS OF THE SUN to be a narrative filled with immense grief and torturous life experiences. This story is told from the perspective of Mathilde who is a French journalist writing an article about “the truth” of women fighting ISIS in Kurdistan.
The piece resists on following Hollywood’s idealised standards of filmmaking where a man steals the spotlight and presents his ultimate heroic persona. Instead, this film aims to endorse female empowerment by letting its female characters break boundaries, save lives, battle through the impossible and declare their victory. These females don’t only dominate the presence on screen, but behind the scenes, roles are well represented as well.
Even though the film has many hard-hitting sequences like the killing of Bahar’s family, the violent assault and abuse endured by her during her captivity, Matilde’s story seems incomplete due to the point of view it was communicated through. When Mathilde joins the group of powerful female fighters at the beginning of the film, the audience assumes the narrative to be focused mainly on the French journalist. But, a significant amount of the film focuses on Bahar’s struggle. Through its focus on Bahar, the story fails to provide more background on the journalist’s past. Although the director Eva Husson crams as many traumatising experiences of Mathilde within the 2-hour long action drama, she nearly disregards Mathilde’s part of the story.
There are many flashbacks of Bahar’s past, where the audience is shown her former life as a happily married woman sharing blissful moments with her husband, and her only child, before ISIS invades her town. The pattern of flashback is repeated throughout the movie where the audience is always being shown parts of Bahar’s former life, and no element of her past is left untold. The focus on Bahar’s character makes her the most influential female presence in the film. She leads her team to victory, even before she becomes the leader of the all-female warriors’ unit.
Since the film mostly misses its chance to tell Matilde’s story, Bahar’s escape from the tormented life forced upon her works quite well for the movie’s narrative as it portrays her awful backstory of getting captured and raped by the extremists, and the suicide of her younger sister. All these components of the past provide depth to Bahar’s character. The absence of these elements means that Matilde’s character is never develop.
Nevertheless, the film does provide its audience with an impressive ground-breaking narrative where women are empowered through their skills on the field and the endurance of their horrifying past. “Women, Life, Freedom” is the melody sung by the all-female warriors and Bahar’s leadership, and her past experiences keep the plot driven and construct strong points in the film’s narrative.