Hideous Kinky (film)

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This article is about the 1998 film. For the 1992 novel, see Hideous Kinky.
Hideous Kinky
Hideous kinky poster.jpg
Hideous Kinky film poster
Directed by Gillies MacKinnon
Produced by Ann Scott
Screenplay by Billy MacKinnon
Based on Hideous Kinky
by Esther Freud
Music by John E. Keane
Cinematography John de Borman
Edited by Pia Di Ciaula
Arts Council of England
The Film Consortium
Greenpoint Films
L Films
Distributed by AMLF
Release date
2 October 1998
Running time
98 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget ₤3.2 million[1]
Box office $1,263,279 (Domestic)[2]

Hideous Kinky is a 1998 drama directed by Scottish director Gillies MacKinnon. Based on Esther Freud's semi-autobiographical 1992 novel of the same name, it follows a young English mother who moves from London to Morocco with her two young daughters in the early 70s. The film stars Kate Winslet and French-Moroccan actor Saïd Taghmaoui.The soundtrack mixes original music with songs from the 60s, including tracks from Canned Heat, Richie Havens and the Incredible String Band.

Plot summary[edit]

In 1972, disenchanted about the dreary conventions of English life, 25-year-old Julia (Winslet) heads for Morocco with her daughters, six-year-old Lucy and eight-year-old Bea. Living in a low-rent Marrakech hotel, the trio survive on the sale of hand-sewn dolls and money from the girls' father, a London poet who also has a child from another woman.

After the girls match their mother with gentle Moroccan acrobat and conman Bilal , sexual gears are set in motion. He eventually moves in with them and serves as a surrogate father. Julia's friend Eva urges Julia to study in Algiers with a revered Sufi master at a school of "the annihilation of the ego". In another sequence, European dandy Santoni invites Julia and the girls to his villa. As finances dwindle, Bilal's philosophy is "God will provide", although usually it is Bilal himself who provides. Sometimes he also disappears. At one point Bea contracts a streptococcus infection while he is gone and nearly dies. Bilal returns only to disappear again, but he has a plan. They discover that three return tickets that suddenly appear have been bought by him with money he got from the sale of his uniform. In the end, Julia and the girls board a train back to London.


Kate Winslet's performance won praise from many reviewers. In Entertainment Weekly, Lisa Schwartzbaum argued that Winslet "perfectly projects that naive self-centeredness with which a Woodstock generation of young wanders, seeking spiritual revelation, made their way to cultures as exotic as their thumbs could take them". In Variety, critic Lisa Nesselson also praised the "radiant" and "sturdy" Winslet for her performance, and argued that the film was "filtered through a sober and intelligent artistic eye". Rolling Stone reviewer Craig Mathieson called the film "a compelling authentic journey".

As of November 2016, website Rotten Tomatoes - which compiles and averages old and new reviews for a film - had Hideous Kinky rated at 65 per cent approval.

Main cast[edit]


  1. ^ Walker, Alexander (2005). Icons in the Fire: The Rise and Fall of Practically Everyone in the British Film Industry 1984-2000. Orion Books. p. 297. 
  2. ^ "Hideous Kinky at Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 2010-09-29. 

External links[edit]