A Bright Hope In A Sad Land

The first post-Taliban film from Afghanistan stirs the heart with its story of a girl in a man's world

She has the eyes of an orphan too proud to plead, too desperate to reproach. She is poor, female and 12, and in mid-'90s Afghanistan, with the Taliban thug clerics in power, that means no schooling, employment or respect. Then her mother has an idea. Cut the girl's hair, dress her in robes and give her a boy's name--Osama--so she can find work as a "boy" and support the tattered family.

The plot of Siddiq Barmak's Osama sounds like a twist on an old story. It's an unsentimental Yentl or--considering the eerie resemblance of Osama's Marina Golbahari to Hilary Swank--an Afghan...

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