Hideous Kinky

Hideous Kinky casts Kate Winslet — remember her from that boat movie? — as Julia, a restless single mother. Tired of her cooped-up life in a London flat and the neglect of the children's poet father, Julia heads off to Morocco with her two daughters, Bea (Bella Riza), 8, and Lucy (Carrie Mullan), 6. It's 1972, and Julia is hungry for hippie adventure and self-discovery. While she finds excitement in a hot fling with Bilal (the excellent Saíd Taghmaoui), a street acrobat, she also learns about the selfishness it takes to raise two small children amid the poverty and perils of Marrakech. Based on an autobiographical novel by Esther Freud (a great-granddaughter of the great Sigmund), the film is colorful, exotic and beautifully acted by Winslet in tandem with the extraordinary Riza and Mullan. It's too bad that director Gillies MacKinnon, working from a script by his brother Billy, is so distracted by the scenery that he lets characterization, coherence and narrative momentum go by the boards. There is often less here than meets the eye. The film's title is derived from a word game in which the children put together unlikely words to describe their feelings. My feelings about this movie are equally mixed: Luminous Dreary.

From The Archives Issue 161: May 23, 1974