Review: ‘Women’s Paradise’

A satiric fable from Uzbekistan, whose charm and interest derive as much from the fallow representation of Uzbekistani cinema on Western screens as from the text itself, Yusup Razykov's "Women's Paradise" is a finely observed dissection of the battle between the sexes, and of everyday life in this remote corner of the planet. Commercial life for barely feature-length pic surely will be limited to further festival showcasing.

A satiric fable from Uzbekistan, whose charm and interest derive as much from the fallow representation of Uzbekistani cinema on Western screens as from the text itself, Yusup Razykov’s “Women’s Paradise” is a finely observed dissection of the battle between the sexes, and of everyday life in this remote corner of the planet. Commercial life for barely feature-length pic surely will be limited to further festival showcasing.

Alternately recalling early Fellini and Almodovar, pic lightly strings

together a series of absurdist vignettes concerning a writer, Olim, and his efforts to locate Zeba, the wife of the dying faith healer Ismail. Olim’s travels (which may actually be fantasies) take him to the title location, where he discovers not just Zeba, but his own wife and mistress living in concert, along with a mysterious tree root that possesses the power to cure ailing women and to harm healthy men. Genial and always amusing, pic is bolstered considerably by the unobtrusive manner by which Razykov records the ethnographic details (the intricate construction of a mud wall; the performance of ceremonial funeral rights) of his home country.

Women's Paradise

Uzbekistan

Production

A State Joint Stock Co., Uzbekistan production. Directed, written by Yusup Razykov, based on the novel by Makhmud Tuichiev.

Crew

Camera (color), Hatam Faiziyev; editor, Olga Morova; music, Jamshid Izomov. Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival (Main Program), Jan. 29, 2001. Original title: Ayollar saltanaty. Running time: 73 MIN.

With

Bakhtier Zakirov, Fatykh Jalolov, Mokhira Nurmetova, Zebo Nuruzova, Nigora Rakhimova.
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