Midlife crisis, or transformation, need not be portrayed with so much energetic gusto that you're as exhausted as a lead character that has most likely gone through innumerable, outlandish loops to learn something really important about his or her relationship to the outside world. The standard plotline involves the average Joe or Jane excitedly exploring a new avenue they were once too afraid, or ashamed, to travel. Having, of course, lived selflessly (especially if it's a female character), said protagonist ventures down the new path amidst the cries of surprise from loved ones, only to see their companion sow their wild oats and return to their first condition, happier for having at least tried. Sometimes this works, like in Shirley Valentine, but far too often we end up with more forgettable Julia Roberts schlock.

Raja Amari's Satin Rouge thankfully shies away from these clichéd moments of an adult's changing self-perception, especially since the main character is a woman and this is not a story often told. Possibly too self-consciously paced to evoke the well-balanced miniature progressions, the Tunisian film allows Lilia (Hiyam Abbas) to become slowly enraptured with the appeal of dancing through the guidance of veteran Salma (Hend El Fahem). While maintaining a laissez-faire single motherhood, each dimension of this subtly woven renewal story has a pleasantly simple purpose, instead of being a grocery list of the redundant when watching a character grow.

Continue reading: Satin Rouge Review