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Desert Flower Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 60

    out of 100

    Village Voice

    Luckily, her cast makes up for the lapses, and Kebede is especially effective at showing how triumph over culturally sanctioned brutality remains a tentative prospect at best.

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  • 60

    out of 100

    Los Angeles Times Gary Goldstein

    A lovely performance by Ethiopian supermodel-actress Liya Kebede as supermodel-activist Waris Dirie works wonders to elevate this uneven, occasionally awkward but often absorbing film.

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  • 63

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Desert Flower tells a rags-to-riches story, but it plays like two stories in conflict. Everything involving Waris in Africa or in London before her success feels true and heartfelt. Many later details are badly handled.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 16+

Mature biopic has moving drama but lacks coherence.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this biopic about Waris Dirie -- who was born into a Somalian desert tribe, then ran away from an arranged marriage as a young teen and made her way to London, where she became a world-famous supermodel -- deals with mature themes and subject matter, though in a dignified manner. Of particular note is the film's focus on female genital mutilation, a common ritual in east Africa that Dirie endured as a young child; the mutilation isn't shown on screen, but there are screams and blood. Expect some drinking and swearing (including "f--k" and "s--t"), and some violent moments (including attempted rape).

  • Families can talk about the film's subject matter. Is it intended to shock or educate? Is it effective?
  • Do you consider Dirie a role model? How is she assisted in her journey?

The good stuff
  • message true4

    Messages: Despite her impoverished origins, Waris Dirie manages to become a world-famous model. Her difficult journey would likely have had a very different ending if not for her determination, drive, and a decent amount of good luck.

  • rolemodels true4

    Role models: Some characters respond to a foreign woman with condescension and insults. But she refuses to let their feeling affect her own and manages to rise above -- very far above -- her humble roots.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: A woman discusses her experience with genital mutilation. In flashbacks, a young girl is shown being sold to an old man as his fourth wife; later, a man attempts to rape her. A man menaces his wife. A young girl endures genital mutilation in a harrowing scene; the actual act isn't seen, but the girl’s face and her screams, as well as the blood on the midwife’s hands, tell the story.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Prostitutes are seen loitering on the streets. Women walk around in their towels in the shower (quick glimpses of their backsides). A couple is glimpsed having sex (the woman is seen astride the man, her back bare). A model is asked to pose nude and is seen from behind. She kisses another model during the photo shoot.

  • language false3

    Language: “Suck,” “s--t,” and “f--k.”

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: Signage for McDonald’s.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Social drinking in a nightclub. A man gets drunk at home and bickers with his wife.