Osama review

Acclaimed at Cannes and especially of-the-moment given our government's adventures overseas, Osama is so unsparing it almost makes Samira Makhmalbaf (Blackboards, At Five In The Afternoon) look like a sellout.

Set in Afghanistan under the (now-defunct) Taliban regime, it follows a mother and daughter stuck in a Catch 22: women are not allowed to work, but the man of the house has been killed. The solution? Young Osama (Marina Golbahari) has her hair cut short and is sent out to earn a living, only to be forced to undertake religious instruction with young boys - - a situation Osama can only survive for so long.

The slight story is used to examine the effects of hardcore fundamentalism, with deft camerawork and affecting acting ensuring it could almost work as a silent movie. The Ken Loach-on-downers approach is a little oppressive, but it's worth noting the non-professional Golbahari is still living in such hardship for real. Now that's depressing.

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