“Review of Four Daughters – The story of a mother’s heartbreak over the Islamic State blending reality and fiction.”

“Review of Four Daughters – The story of a mother’s heartbreak over the Islamic State blending reality and fiction.”


The film has genuine emotional depth and empathy despite some flaws. It is a docudrama that uses actors to portray real people involved in a tragic event in Tunisia. Olfa Hamrouni, a divorced woman from Sousse, made headlines when two of her daughters, Rahma and Ghofrane, left to join the Islamic State in Syria seven years ago. The director, Kaouther Ben Hania, recreates important moments from Olfa’s family life, featuring her remaining daughters Eya and Tayssir as themselves, and actors portraying the missing daughters. Ichraq Matar plays Ghofrane, while Nour Karoui plays Rahma.

Although she has not disappeared, Olfa is portrayed by Hend Sabri, adding some confusion to the process since she is a living and powerful onscreen presence. The interviews include both the actors and the real people, followed by scenes where Olfa critiques their performances. In the film, Majd Mastoura portrays Olfa’s distant and abusive father, highlighting his unusual emotional distress while embodying a cruel character from reality.

Ben Hania may have approached this process with an open mind, without a clear understanding of how this approach would reveal new information about the case. It is uncertain how much insight has been gained through this technique, and it is possible that it may not be effective in determining the specific ways in which the two young women became radicalized. Relying on actor intuition to imagine their thought processes may not lead to significant discoveries. A television clip from a panel discussion featuring Olfa passionately criticizing politicians and attributing her daughters’ radicalization to their tolerance of jihadist imams after the Arab Spring may offer a perceptive understanding that cannot be obtained through docudrama.

Yet these women possess such a powerful on-screen presence that their empathy propels the film forward. It is enchanting to witness the genuine emotions of Eya and Tayssir as they meet the actresses portraying their sisters, struck by their striking similarities and the surreal feeling of their sisterly bond being recreated in a semi-fictionalized manner.

Source: theguardian.com