Discussion for the Four Daughters
Four Daughters is the closeness of women, particularly those living in the same household, is evidence of the power of shared history. The bond of sisterhood is governed by shared experiences of what it is like to be a woman in the world and to grow up in a household where authoritarian and misogynist forces are felt equally. Kaouther Ben Hania’s “Four Daughters” may suggest a maternal focus because of its title, yet the film is just as interested in the points of discord amongst sisters. The documentary’s central argument is that maturing may be very upsetting, even in a household full of women used to the same conditions, and that the connections of family are not necessarily proportional to the effects of religion or politics.
In addition to Rahma, Olfa Hamrouni also has daughters Eya, Tayssir, and Ghofrane. The two oldest, Ghofrane and Rahma, however, vanished years ago after becoming radicalised and leaving home to join ISIS. Olfa and her two youngest kids analyse the repercussions of the intersection of their womanhood and their culture as they recall their experiences prior to and following they fled. They analyse the environments and the events that shaped them, bringing to the fore the unspoken desire by all women to feel empowered.
The surviving Olfa, Eya, and Tayssir may present their viewpoints. Two women, Ichraq Matar and Nour Karoui, play the roles of Ghofrane and Rahma since they are not in the film. They take the place of the real-life sisters who inspired the reenactments by inhabiting the characters and setting.
Their roles as actors are not lost, but their involvement is more powerful because of the shared pain they all experienced. Olfa is brought to tears as the sisters recognise the actors playing themselves when they are introduced. Sisterly recollections of first periods, puberty stories, and male gossip seem as authentic as those of toying with each other’s hair in bed. The film’s emotional core is strengthened by the artificiality of the female friendship posing as a sisterly one. The issue of what emotional cost these performers are willing to take because of the gender power gap remains, however.
Olfa’s insert is the actress Hend Sabry, who plays the role Olfa herself would find too traumatic to play out. Yet Olfa is often seen in the background as Sabry is performing; she is a constant presence in her fictionalised portrayal, often interjecting to correct the way the story is being recounted. The ladies of “Four Daughters” are given significant agency in narrating their own tale, and the actors are given equal opportunity to do so. When it comes to parenting her girls, Olfa has an iron grip, yet Sabry will question her, criticise her, and sometimes call them out on imposing certain sexist, patriarchal societal practises.
The moral implications of these situations are hard to quantify. How much self-criticism is acceptable when these ladies are going through their worst experiences? When do inquiries become evaluations? Also, how much of a personal investment are the performers required to make? When playing every male character in the women’s life, actor Majd Mastoura eventually feels so uncomfortable that he interrupts an exchange and fails to continue. Eya, frustrated, tells him to come back and continue the part, explaining that it’s his responsibility as a performer to perform the dialogue and that it’s not his trauma.
Though crucial to the plot of “Four Daughters,” these meta-reenactments suffer from a lack of objectivity and a lack of mutual trust due to the subjects’ insistence on re-creating or retelling their histories in their own ways. Due to the fuzziness of regard between actor and subject, this calls into question both dependability and morality.
Whether using a “talking heads” format or searching for archive video to use later, a solid foundation is essential for every documentary. Even when its impartiality is questioned, “Four Daughters” is a masterpiece of multidimensional narrative because to Ben Hania’s empathetic vision, which is elegantly tied to her analytical powers.
Olfa, Eya, and Tayssir display a range of feelings throughout the film, from affection and nostalgia to despair, indignation, and rage. While interacting, most actors talk about how they were taught to distance themselves emotionally from their characters. They still cry together, hug one other, and exchange knowing looks of pain despite this. Making this video has clearly been therapeutic for the sisters.
They get to say the things they always wanted to say, experience the times they miss the most, and express themselves in a way that their younger selves never could have. The narrative of “Four Daughters” is one of alienation, self-examination, and release.