“Girls of the sun,” Eva Husson’s retelling of the Kurdistan girl fighter batallion

Bahar (Golshifteh Farahani) is commander of the Daughters of the Sun battalion in Kurdistan. They are preparing to free her city from the hands of Islamists and find her son who is behind enemy lines. A French journalist on assignment in the area, Mathilde (Emmanuelle Bercot, of “Mon Roi” fame, among others), joins their platoon to cover the offensive and help bring the spotlight on these women warriors.

“Girls of the sun,” (“Les filles du soleil” in the French original) a moving but imperfect tribute, recounts the lives and battles of real-life Yezidi women who formed a militia, known as the Sinjar Women’s Protection Units (YJS), of which the daughters are a part, to fight ISIS in Iraq. The Islamic state massacred, raped and exploited these women, stealing their children.

The Yazidis are a minority population whose beliefs combine elements of Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism, which makes them targets, since ISIS considers them apostates. The irony is that ISIS fighters believe that if they are killed by a woman they will not get to heaven.

Under Farahani’s lead, her charges appear noble and valiant, all of them women who put up with sacrifice to be a part of a cause. These exemplary women aren’t afraid of anything, not even gunpowder, their hatred and their courage multiplied after what they suffered through.

The sisterhood between these women is disrupted, some, by the arrival of the Mathilde character. Why Husson had to drop her in the middle of the story, mucking up everything, is beyond me. Bercot’s Mathilde bears an odd intensity that seems out of place.

“The Girls of the Sun” unfortunately suffers from too much sentiment and veers into melodramatic territory, with the narrative moving in fits and starts. The first part of “Girls” lacks coherence in terms of storytelling, as if the film got away from under Husson’s directing hand.

The film is further hurt by music by Morgan Kibby, an American composer and member of M83, an intense and crushing soundtrack that takes away from “Girls of the Sun.”

This film first premiered at the 2018 Cannes Festival. Out in theaters today.

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