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Heaven Will Wait

(Le ciel attendra)
France 2016. Dir: Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar. 105 min. DCP

“Uncompromising and emotionally poignant ... Mention-Schaar handles tricky material with great sensitivity.”

When 17-year-old Sonia is caught trying to leave France to join the jihad in Syria, her parents are forced to become her jailers. Meanwhile, Mélanie, a quiet, studious 15-year-old, makes a new friend on Facebook and is drawn into radical Islam. This alarming but necessary drama thoughtfully tackles a disturbing phenomenon in contemporary France: the radicalization of teenage girls by online predators. Writer-director Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar ably parallels the two young women’s stories — one in the process of being radicalized, the other on the painful road to recovery — to reveal how jihadists prey on teenagers’ personal insecurities and general sense of injustice to indoctrinate and recruit them. Though it reaches the emotional heights of great drama, Heaven Will Wait has the granular detail of first-rate investigative journalism: its portrait of vulnerable young women and their helpless families is unforgettable.