Much Loved

104 minutes 2015

Banned in Morocco because of its "serious contempt for moral values and the Moroccan woman," this 2015 drama about sex workers in Marrakesh is less lurid than the charge implies. Writer-director Nabil Ayouch indulges in long scenes of bacchanalia and some explicit sex, but they're hardly out of line with the story; if anything, they're too light and fun to be completely believable. Overall the women's problems spring from less likely places than the bedrooms they share with dangerously patriarchal men: a den mother to the new recruits (Loubna Abidaar) struggles to connect with her teenage son, while a rookie who prefers women sexually (Asmaa Lazrak) chafes at having to entertain men. Without being overly political, Ayouch touches on the hypocrisy of gender norms in the Middle East—the Saudi men are appreciative of the scantily clad sex workers but dismissive toward the wives they cover up back home. In Moroccan with subtitles.

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