Mini-Review: Traitors

Traitors is a film that in a way uses an underground music scene to hook us into its story. However, the synopsis succinctly makes the connection between the disparate scene that draws you in and the dilemma that forms the crux of the conflict:

Malika is the leader of the all-female punk rock band Traitors, with a strong vision of the world, her hometown of Tangier, and her place in it. When she needs money to save her family from eviction, and to realize her dreams for the band, Malika agrees to a fast cash proposition: a smuggling run over the mountains for a dangerous drug dealer. But her companion on the road is Amal, a burnt-out young drug mule, who Malika decides to free from her enslavement to the dangerous drug dealers. The challenge will put Malika’s rebel ethos to the test, and to survive she will have to call on all her instincts and nerve.

Clearly, Malika (Chaimae Ben Acha) has ample motivation for her gamble. However, what’s refreshing even though she’s willingly getting into a dangerous situation she doesn’t do so naively, nor does she make silly mistakes once she gets into it. In fact, her intelligence and ability to read people is persistently on display throughout.

The simplicity of the through-line the story has allows us to become immersed in this world and invest in the characters’ quest. It’s also highly refreshing the way the film absolutely refuses to over-elaborate the situation. Even though a story is about drug-smuggling, which one would assume hinges on a good amount of discretion too many films, even dramas would over-escalate and raise the stakes to ridiculous extents. They are up, there is tension and suspense but priorities for protagonists and antagonists alike are kept in check.

There is a big scene in this film where Traitors transforms from a film one can like to a film one can love and that is where Amal (Soufia Issami) is telling Malika her story. They are both riveting to watch in the scene. The information make Amal a major player, changes the dynamic between the two characters, and informs decisions made from that point forward.

Traitors is a quickly-paced, engaging watch that establishes a character’s philosophy and puts her in a situation to have the courage of her convictions . It’s highly recommended.