The Source (2011) Poster


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Women of Courage
claudio_carvalho29 April 2012
In a remote and primitive patriarchal village between the North of Africa and the Middle East, the land has dried and the women traditionally brings water from a distant fountain to their houses while the idle husbands drink tea in the bar.

The educated Leïla (Leila Bekhti), who is the wife of the local teacher Sami (Saleh Bakri), begins a sex strike movement among the women, supported by the elder Vieux Fusil (meaning old flintlock) (Biyouna), to force the men to bring water to the village. There is a strong reaction from the brutal men, but they resist until the brave women achieve their goal.

"La Source des Femmes" is another brilliant film by Radu Mihaileanu about a group of women of courage that are capable to protest against the status quo of their village through sex strike.

Like other films of this magnificent director, the story is a combination of drama and comedy in precise doses to make the viewer think, and exposes the situation of women not only in Muslin countries but also in poor worldwide areas where ignorance still prevails.

The beauty of the actresses is impressive specially Leïla Bekhti and Hafsia Herzi. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "A Fonte das Mulheres" ("The Women's Fountain")
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Mihaileanu gets better and better
robert-temple-125 October 2012
Every time I see one of Radu Mihaileanu's amazing films I think he cannot make a better one than that, and then he does. This is probably the best yet. The story is set in an anonymous North African location, but the film was shot in a wild and remote village in Morocco somewhere in the vicinity of Marrakesh. As usual, many of the supporting actors seem to be indigenous local inhabitants. The film was shot in Arabic, but it seems that in France the dialogue was dubbed into French, whereas the English language DVD has the original Arabic dialogue with English subtitles, which is thus more authentic. The lead actress, of magical beauty and talent, is Leila Bekhti. She is of Algerian descent but was born in France. The actress who plays her sister Loubna/Esmeralda, Hafsia Herzi, was also born in France and is of mixed Tunisian and Algerian descent. Bekhti's vicious and unbalanced mother-in-law is played by Hiam Abbass, an Israeli Arab who has acted in 65 films. Mihaileanu has been very clever to find these amazing actresses, who are all completely convincing as locals who inhabit the small village where the story is set. This is a film about women who rebel against the oppressive customs of their lazy, and often brutal, husbands, who justify their indolence and oppression of their wives by 'tradition', or sometimes by unconvincing references to their religion. For hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of years, the women of the village have brought the village's water in buckets from the spring ('source' in French, hence the title). The spring is high up the mountain slope behind the village, and the pathway is very rough and difficult. Many of the women have had miscarriages because they slipped and fell carrying the buckets of water while they were pregnant. We see an instance of this near the beginning of the film. While the women exhaust themselves and lose their babies by these exertions, the idle husbands sit on a small terrace sipping mint tea all day long because they have no jobs. It has never occurred to any of them to fetch the water or assist his wife. They just sit there, lazy slobs that they are. And if a baby dies, so what. The situation becomes intolerable to her, so Leila Bekhti rebels, supported by the aged widow called Vieux Fusil (Mrs. Rifle in the subtitles), magnificently portrayed by the actress Biyouna, who is a true native Algerian. Bekhti persuades other women in the village to go on 'love strike' by denying their rampant husbands their nightly sex. Many of the women get beaten, and some get raped when the husbands become furious and violent. Bekhti is secretly supported by her own husband, who genuinely loves her, and he sneaks out at night to carry some buckets of water down from the spring himself, the only man in the village who ever does so. He does this on the quiet because he is afraid the other men might attack him violently if they knew that he had done 'women's work'. One gets a very good idea why nothing ever happens in North Africa by way of business development, since there appears to be no initiative amongst the men, who are mostly seen to be arrogant, spoiled, pompous, querulous, and many of them are very violent indeed, almost psychopathically so. An Imam lectures the women that it says in the Koran that a man should beat his wife if she is disobedient. However, Bekhti, who is the only woman in the village who can read, quotes to the old Imam rival suras from the Koran and a Hadith ('Sayings of the Prophet') text which crush his arguments, so that he becomes dejected and ceases to oppose them. Many of the men of the village organise a scheme to renounce their wives and get new, obedient and excessively religious wives to come in and take their place. But the Imam ends his support for this scheme after Bekhti defeats him in her theological arguments. One of the most strenuous opponents of the women is Nissam, the son of Biyuona. She fearlessly berates him, tells him he is a good for nothing, and eventually throws him out of the house. This film tackles head-on the problems of the oppression of women and religious fanaticism in the Muslim world in North Africa. One of the remarkable aspects of the film is that the women communicate their stories and grievances by improvising songs rather than by speaking, which seems to be a local custom. They repeatedly shame their men by out-singing them. This is an extremely profound and very deep examination of life in a remote ethnic community, and a story of great courage. The film is both extremely emotional and deeply disturbing. It is never possible to watch a Mihaileanu film without being both shaken and stirred. It is another triumph for that brilliant director, a Paris resident of Romanian origin, who is certainly one of the finest film directors working in Europe today.
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Brilliant, delicate, delicious, poetic.
antoniatejedabarros30 December 2011
A brilliant, delicate, delicious & poetic movie. The music (composed by Armand Amar) is superb. Radu Mihaileanu knows to picture the tragedy with a big touch of love and hope. The movie denounces the injustices that live the majority of women in the Arab countries, with a touch of beauty and comedy. Radu Mihaileanu shows us that to change the reality without violence is still possible in this violence world. Another jewel from this amazing director who surprised us in the past with incredibly beautiful and powerful movies such as "Train the vie" (1998), "Va, vis et deviens" (2005) and "Le concert" (2009). Antonia Tejeda Barros (Madrid, Spain).
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Finally, courage!
nathan-dessy16 November 2011
Finally, a movie dares to speak about the unspoken, about the reality behind the so-called "freedom of worship"; finally, someone has the guts to denounce the unbearable situation of women in those regions, or even in our regions because of the laxity of our democracies, ready to flout human rights in the name of a would-be tolerance! This cannot stand any more: voices have to raise, the tables have to be thumped, the headscarfs have to fall. Women aren't objects, and this movie reminds us of it well. It is time for them to get back their dignity, to take control of their lives, to become the equal of men. The movie succeeds to combine the seriousness of this situation with some touches of humor, bringing us back to the absurdity of men behaviour whose anxiety, frustration and lack of confidence in themselves led to the destruction of many women who just wanted to live.
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Womens' lib, the real thing
stensson15 July 2012
In a North African village, the women has a mission. They fetch water from a source in the mountain, while the men have tea. It's desert heat, the barrels are heavy and miscarriages appear on the mountain. The men only care, if the child was a boy.

So the women start a sex strike. Sounds like a comedy, which it's also in some ways are. But at the same time, you here have a perfect opportunity to get rid of lots of prejudices. Passions, conflicts and longing are the same. Only the culture is different.

You find deep religiosity at the same time. This is certainly not mainstream, but entertaining in a deep way until the last drop of water.
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Very funny, thought-provoking and entertaining, perfect for the summer.
dipesh-parmar7 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The Source is a story set in a small village somewhere in North Africa, a battle not just between the sexes, but also of traditions. One of the many jobs the women have to do is collect water from a well on a hill. One day, a distressing accident to a young woman forces her friend Leila to finally take a stand against the men and traditional values.

Leila (Leïla Bekhti) discusses the situation with all the women in the village, most are against the idea for fear of reprisals from their husbands. The village elder Mother Rifle (Biyouna) backs Leila's actions and enforces the one thing that will hurt the men more than anything, a 'sex strike'. The men, most of which do not work through lack of employment, grow more and more irritable as the strike gains momentum. The women certainly know how to rile the men, passively mocking them in different ways to get their attention. But not all the women share Leila's passion for change, not least her mother-in-law Fatima (Hiam Abbass). Leila's husband Sami (Saleh Bakri) is one of the few men that support the strike. Cracks begin to appear in everyones lives, with both sides using some quite unique methods for getting what they want.

Water is used as a symbol for the general plight of the women, and director Radu Mihaileanu covers many themes such as rape within marriage, illiteracy, and the role of women in Islam. Mihaileanu tackles such bold issues not just with a seriousness but with plenty of humour. This balance between comedy and drama works really well, and what could otherwise be seen as sentimental and emotionally manipulative is dealt with real charm and sincerity. Mihaileanu crams a lot of issues into 2 hours of drama, some sub-plots working better than others.

Song and music are used really well in some of the key scenes, and its worth paying attention to the songs as they seem to resonate more powerfully, perhaps such a medium is used with more importance in such cultures? I especially enjoyed the scene where tourists paid to go to the village, a regular occurrence to help fund the village, and the women sung and danced whilst the tourists sat and clapped. The men were in attendance and clapped along, but soon realised the women had changed the words to the traditional songs to subtly mock the men for their absurdities. Its one of many charming scenes in a thought-provoking and entertaining film, topically on-point considering the current political instability in much of the middle east countries, adding a different and perhaps more human complexion that we can all relate to.
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jeromec-228 April 2013
I don't know what I'm voting on. Lysistrada by Aristophenes was much wittier, but the point of this movie is not wit.

Perhaps I'm voting on the wonder that it was made at all. We in the west have a very different view of what Muslim countries should produce given our media.

This film does not fit into that category. None that I've seen do. None proclaim death to the west. None want to commit murder in the hope of getting multiple virgins as a reward.

None do anything but examine daily life. What was set in Toronto Canada. A second was set in the middle east on the Israeli Lebonon border, a third was made in New York and now this one from North Africa. All of them were gentle films that made comments about the human condition.

And all including this one were well worth seeing. The film is a little long and the music is an acquired taste, but be patient. It will reward a patient viewer.
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Strong and very moving struggle
AvidClimber8 June 2013
The Source is an excellent Arabic movie about the social modernization of the Maghreb back country, that westerners can easily associate with.

The good. Powerful subjects. Extremely compelling story, touching and full of emotions. Tightly built scenario. Nice B and C stories. Very realistic characters. Actual setting, nothing fake.

The bad. Nothing.

The ugly. Nothing.

The result. Many can enjoy this flick, but highly recommended to anyone who like social justice, grass root non-violent movements, or tales set in a simple village. Not recommended to those who like slick movies.
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A great writer/director I've never seen
rowmorg14 April 2013
The sing-song politics of North Africa was beautifully used to express the position of the rebel women. They dressed up in their traditional outfits, danced and sang to let their men "have it" about not getting it. I loved this soulful picture, with no cars, no electricity and completely ethnic village surroundings. It was hilarious when, half-way through, the senior character was seen riding her mule (with a foal in the basket) and talking on a mobile phone in the middle of the desert. There was also a mobile phone in the yard of Leila's house, but it only worked in one place, and hung on a line with nobody allowed to move it. Top marks to this team for their writing, directing and acting, combining to make a powerful and yet charming film. I hope I get to see his next work.
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Not as good as I was expecting
adam-tongu19 August 2012
Maybe the problem was to read about the movie before watching it. But I really was disappointed. I admit that my expectations were high. I found the story too linear. The kind of movie that you know how it ends at the first 15 minutes. The subject is interesting. If it was treated with more creativity, would be a less boring movie. I think when you are making a movie and thinking about how to teach people from a different culture how to think, is not an easy task. But still it is a good attempt to bring to the screen this kind of subject, at least people will talk about it. I do not know how accurately what he shows in this movie reflects the reality on those countries, but I hope people from those countries take the example that the movie give to them.
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a beautiful overview of rebellion, love and freedom.
freebirds-365257 June 2018
Beautiful film screening, the actors' performances were genuine, real and beautiful. the movie conveys a message that is going in the whole middle east and north africa, the reality that blends traditional ideas and connection, with the demand of democracy, equal rights and a rebellion on parts of this same tradition, love, rebellion, attachment to the homeland, and the detachment at the same time, all was beautifully expressed in this story, in a funny, interacting way. Recommended :)
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The straw that broke the camel's back (web)
leplatypus8 March 2014
With this last movie with Leila, i find the missing piece in the recollection of my friendship with « my » Leila. It's about her roots, in other words, the life in North Africa. I went there with all the family once and if their way of living was peaceful and pleasant. In this movie, I didn't recognize: we are stuck in a jerkwater village, lost in the arid mountains. Everything is hideous : the houses with no water, no electricity, the rags, the songs... The people are blind with tradition, the relationships are awful : women and men are segregated, abusive intimacy, lack of education and all this in the name of faith and culture. Sure, it's the ideal ground for an explosive drama. But the story isn't up to the task, the characters aren't interesting, the rhythm is terribly sluggish, so the watching is painful. If it's also as Manichean than « Synghe Sabour », the latter is much better and less suffocating.
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