Raja | Chicago Reader

Raja

112 minutes

Jacques Doillon, noted for perceptive films about traumatized children (Ponette, Petits freres), turns to Marrakech for this 2003 story of amour fou between Frederic (Pascal Greggory), a dissolute French neocolonialist, and Raja (Najat Benssallem), an orphaned teen he puts to work in his mansion. Raja's boyfriend and abusive brother view the arrangement with suspicion and contempt even as they attempt to cash in on it; Frederic, in turn, ruthlessly manipulates them all, his lust for Raja turning to rage when she tries to hold out. It's not just the relationship between the colonizer and the colonized that traps the lovers, it's the tension between eros and narcissism. In French and Arabic with subtitles.

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