Re-enactment will not be an uncommon or significantly novel device in documentary filmmaking but lately it appears to have made a pointed resurgence — maybe as a result of the strategy has a definite relationship to trauma and presents a compelling technique of selecting open previous wounds for cathartic and/or therapeutic functions. Suppose “Framing Agnes,” “Procession,” and Nathan Fielder’s HBO sequence “The Rehearsal.”
“4 Daughters” is one other re-enactment movie, distinct for the sense of intimacy and familiarity it brings to seemingly extraordinary circumstances. Olfa Hamrouni, a Tunisian lady, has 4 daughters, two of whom disappeared in 2015 to affix ISIS in Libya. Directed by Kaouther Ben Hania, the documentary blends direct testimony by Olfa and her two youngest daughters, Eya and Tayssir, with stagings of pivotal scenes from the household’s life. The talking-heads type confessions, fantastically framed in velvety shadows, resemble stained-glass portraits.
The docufictional interludes are carried out by Eya and Tayssir, in addition to two actresses who play the misplaced daughters Ghofrane (Ichraq Matar) and Rahma (Nour Karoui). A separate actress additionally performs Olfa (Hend Sabri), although Ben Hania shifts between the fictional drama and a behind-the-scenes perspective, that means we sometimes see Olfa directing her double and tweaking the performances to evolve to her model of occasions.
We be taught that Eya and Tayssir, solely youngsters once they fled Olfa’s residence, turned to Islamic extremism as a type of rebel; Olfa, due to an upbringing punctuated by violence and misogyny, raised her daughters with an iron fist. Regardless of the documentary’s thrilling hybridity, the self-esteem is extra attention-grabbing in principle than it’s in follow. The re-enactments map out the household’s stress and lay naked their wounds, however the misplaced daughters stay cyphers — the enchantment of radicalization frustratingly murky via the top.
Not rated. In Arabic, with subtitles. Operating time: 1 hour 47 minutes. In theaters.