The nature of female friendships can be complicated at the best of times. Throw several external factors in the mix and the intricate web only gets increasingly complex. In his latest film, Canadian-born, Israeli-raised, director Jonathan Sagall examines how everything from love to recollections of the past can damage a friendship forever.
Lara (Clara Khoury) is a Palestinian living in London with her British husband and seven year-old son. Despite being in a loveless marriage, Lara maintains the appearance of leading an idyllic life. When her old friend Inam (Nataly Attiya) arrives unexpectedly, Lara’s life is immediately thrown for a loop. Inam clearly has unfinished business from the past to settle and begins a subtle game of emotional sabotage. As the two women try their best to fake pleasantries, they each reflect on the events that brought their relationship to this strained point.
Sagall’s film utilizes a series of flashbacks to piece together several of the events that impacted Lara and Inam’s relationship. However, by giving both women separate recollections of how the events of the past actually occurred, Sagall provides audiences with a unique insight into the characters and their relationship. It alters how the audience views both women throughout the film as they end up nothing like the mother and whore archetypes that Sagall presents them to be in the beginning.
Lipstikka, at times, attempts to cast too wide a net in regards to its subject matter. The film tackles issues such as abortion, sexual discovery, mental illness, infidelity, and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Sagall makes it work for the most part, but the film loses it rhythm in the final act. The last twenty minutes feel like Sagall was desperate to find away to tie up all the loose ends.
Final act aside, Lipstikka is a film that will keep the audience interested throughout. Sagall does a good job of maintaining the mystery of the women’s past by slowly unveiling information. The performances by Clara Khoury and Nataly Attiya are riveting and the actresses make up for the film’s occasional shortcomings. Although the film may not provide the answers audiences hope for, Lipstikka has enough positive elements going for it to make it worth seeing.