Some critics are calling this engaging film a modern day `Thelma and Louise, but with a happy ending'. Yes, is it is a story about tow disconsolate women who decide to take their lives in their own hands and set out on a road trip to prove they can indeed survive. As written by Joelle Touma and Marion Doussot and directed by Rachid Bouchareb (highly regarded for his touching films `Days of Glory' and `London River') JUST LIKE A WOMAN takes on a pair of women who have issues with men and allows us to see the building of a friendship of meaning and one that overcomes sour consequences with gentle grace.
Mona (Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani), 26, is an immigrant from Egypt who was brought to America by her now mother in law (Chafia Boudraa) to run her in-laws' mini market in Chicago and to marry her arranged husband is Mourad (Roschdy Zem), a kind and gentle man who can't stand up to his authoritarian mother. Mona is harassed by her mother-in-law because after five years of marriage, she hasn't be able to get pregnant, something that's considered a shame and a taboo in her culture. Marilyn (Sienna Miller), 29, is a receptionist at a computer repair company. Her marriage with Harvey (Jesse Bob Harper) is on the ropes. The only thing in her life that makes her happy is her belly dancing class as taught by her close friend Peter (Michael Ehlers) who sees Marilyn's gifts and encourages her to try out for a belly dancing group in Santa Fe, NM. Marilyn shops at Mona's mini-market and they have become friends who both incidentally love belly dancing. Two tragedies occur: Mona accidentally gives her mother-in-law a lethal dose of digoxin and fearing she will be arrested she flees; Marilyn loses her job because of the recession and when she arrives home she discovers Harvey cheating on her. With nothing left to lose, Marilyn decides to go to Santa Fe after all. Mona and Marilyn run into each other on a rest area on the side of a highway. They decide to continue the trip together. They cross the USA, pitching their tent in trailer parks and in the middle of the desert. They earn some cash belly dancing together in restaurants and bars. Back in Chicago, Mona is considered a fugitive; she's wanted for the murder of her mother-in-law. Harvey asks the police to look for Marilyn who disappeared without leaving a trace. How the plans of the two women who have become fast friends are resolved provides the somewhat surprise ending.
Miller and Farahani create a magnetic chemistry on screen and from the get-go they have us routing for their flight to freedom. The various characters they meet on this road trip are well acted and the general feeling at the end of the film is one of warm applause. Grady Harp, July 13