Kaouther Ben Hania’s “Four Daughters” is a cinematographic blend of documentary and fiction, an honest exploration of memory, loss, and the complexity of reality and fantasy. The lines between the two are blurred in the film’s captivating use of cinematography and unique narrative, specifically its semi-fictionalized form, inviting the viewers to navigate a perplexing web of perception and understanding.
The “behind-the-scenes of the behind-the-scenes” format helps reveal moments of emotional resonance. By having the characters directly address the camera, this unconventional method elevates the cinematic experience into an intimate dialogue between the audience and narrators, drawing us closer to the characters’ rawest emotions and reflections.
A poignant example is Hamrouni’s silent gaze into the camera following a plot revelation, a moment that speaks louder than words and is nothing short of chilling.
The film’s beginning, with its deceptive implication of the two sisters’ fate, is a testament to the power of cinematic manipulation. The eventual revelation that they had been radicalized and joined ISIS evokes thoughts on the dual nature of propagation, further heightening the film’s sense of authenticity. This unveiling amplifies the movie’s grip, twisting our emotions with every subsequent revelation.
Although one can’t help but wish for a more careful discovery of the radicalization of the two sisters, the film doesn’t delve deep into this transformation, instead focusing on raw emotional exploration. “Four Daughters” isn’t about uncovering reasons but about confronting feelings and emotions in their most tender form, allowing its characters—and us—to gaze into the mirror of past and future.