"You have to grab your rights with both hands".
This was a really interesting film from Tunisia depicting as well as scathing the unbelievable bureaucracy and corruption of the country's authorities, especially of the police force. The film begins with our protagonist, Mariam, a young college student who attends a party in a luxurious hotel where she meets Youssef, a young man who seems to like her.
In the next shot, we see Mariam in a dreadful, confused state as we learn that she was raped by a gang of three police officers. Youssef is still standing by her side and tries to help her to file a formal complaint against the police. At the beginning of the film, we witness Youssef and Mariam's journey in the Tunisian healthcare system as she needs a certificate proving that she was raped. The behavior of the hospital personnel is risk-averse and decidophobic and nobody seems to be willing to help the poor girl. After that, our two protagonists will have to go to the police station to file the complaint against the three rapists. Of course, Tunisian police officers are not happy to investigate a possible atrocity committed by their colleagues.
Beauty and the Dogs is a film about the people's need to embrace basic human rights and not compromise even when the odds and circumstances are against you. I've read in some reviews written by Tunisian people that this movie is a rather realistic account of the country's current condition. It is heavily implied that the subject is powerless against the arbitrariness of the authorities and the existence of the law is not enough to prevent the abuse of power by them.
The performances of both the protagonists (Mariam Al Ferjani and Ghanem Zrelli) are excellent as they are natural and unselfconscious while the direction by Kaouther Ben Hania is successful in portraying a decaying country where the system is so bent that there is truly no hope. I enjoyed Beauty and the Dogs and I can recommend it without any reservation to all cinema lovers and chiefly to those who are keen on seeing movies with a strong political dimension.