Bastards: Review

A passion project for award-winning director Deborah Perkin, and partly funded by a kick starter campaign, Bastards is one of this year’s hidden little gems.

Filmed in Morocco but dealing with a global issue, it focuses on the struggles faced by women in Muslim countries, who have given birth outside of marriage.

Usually abandoned by the fathers (bastards), the illegitimate children (also bastards) are outcasts and unable to be registered on the state birth register. This means that education and access to healthcare are often out of reach for these children, let alone any respectable social status.

With roughly 6,500 babies being abandoned in Morocco every year, it’s clearly a serious issue that deserves some attention from as wide an audience as possible.

Despite its tough title and even tougher subject matter, Bastards is far from the doom and gloom you may expect from it. Whilst the spotlight is set firmly on the issue, and the situations that these people find themselves in are awful, what really shines through is the unconditional love between mother and child.

The film boasts the strongest female ‘character” that I’ve seen all year in cinema; Rabha El Haymar. She has all the charm and tenacity you could ever want in a leading lady, be it fictional or otherwise. Her fight to have her religious marriage acknowledged as legally binding in order to give her daughter a brighter future is admirable, and indeed quite lovely to watch.

Her journey is a rocky one, filled with enough twists and turns to make M. Night Shyamalan jealous, and if you add to the mix a number of courtroom sequences that brim with tension, what you actually have is a successful thriller without the big name cast and convoluted plot.

Another reason the film works is that it achieves the balance that’s needed for a documentary film. Rather than an all-out hate campaign against men, it actually shows the good as well as the bad, some men playing a pivotal part in trying to help Rabha achieve her goal.

No excuse then for anyone to miss this regardless of sex or race. Bastards is a powerful and touching documentary unlike any other I’ve seen over the past year. Whilst it may not have the special effects and action sequences from big budget summer-fare, it does have an important story to tell, one with a lot more heart and depth than most films on offer right now.

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