Like a bargain-basement version of Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void, this Chicago-shot feature by Usama Alshaibi (Nice Bombs) uses a panoply of shock tactics—rapid editing, blurry superimpositions, drug use, and S-M—to evoke nauseous fascination with the sexual underworld. And like Noé, Alshaibi seems as curious about religious transcendence as degradation. The heroine, a Jordanian immigrant, works contentedly as a dominatrix but wants to reconnect with her Muslim roots; scenes of her lurid career alternate with a sweet subplot in which she befriends a religiously devout Middle Eastern cabdriver. Though certainly not for the squeamish, the movie is a striking story of life in the Arab diaspora, aided rather than undermined by its occasional narrative incoherence.
NR • 1 hour 19 min • 2010