A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this biopic about Waris Dirie -- who was born into a Somalian desert tribe, then ran away from an arranged marriage as a young teen and made her way to London, where she became a world-famous supermodel -- deals with mature themes and subject matter, though in a dignified manner. Of particular note is the film's focus on female genital mutilation, a common ritual in east Africa that Dirie endured as a young child; the mutilation isn't shown on screen, but there are screams and blood. Expect some drinking and swearing (including "f--k" and "s--t"), and some violent moments (including attempted rape).
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What's the story?
Before Waris Dirie (Liya Kebede) became a world-renowned supermodel, she was a terrified young girl from a nomadic tribe in Somalia who ran away to escape an arranged marriage. DESERT FLOWER is based on Dirie’s amazing real-life journey and shows how an impoverished refugee in London was discovered by a photographer (Timothy Spall) and became a fashion sensation. The film also focuses on female genital mutilation, a sadly common ritual in east Africa that Dirie was forced to endure at the age of 3. She was one of the first to publicly discuss this dangerous tradition and has helped draw the world’s attention to a custom that subjugates millions of women around the world.
Is it any good?
Desert Flower is an important movie, but not a great one. Dirie’s life-story is inspiring, her experiences as young girl are tragic, and her ability to speak out against a custom that has long been hidden is impressive. But the movie feels like a string of scenes stitched together, and they sometimes lack narrative structure. The film certainly has an important message, but it tries too hard to make its point. Although we feel for the character because of what she’s done, that's despite of the way her story is told rather than because of it.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: March 18, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: July 19, 2011
- Cast: Liya Kebede, Sally Hawkins, Timothy Spall
- Director: Sherry Horman
- Studio: National Geographic
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 120 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some violent content, a scene of sexuality and language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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