Deep in the night a limousine drives through Marrakech. Made up to the nines and talking nineteen to the dozen, Noha, Soukaina and Randa are on their way to an exclusive party. The three women are prostitutes. They sell their bodies to rich Arabs and Europeans who they pick up in discos, restaurants and at parties. Their daily life is far removed from the vibrant party world: they are regularly threatened and have been rejected by their families. When they meet the young, inexperienced prostitute Hlima, a new, close friendship develops. Something that the women cherish above all else. With dignity and in the spirit of emancipation, they brave the society that uses and judges them.
Much Loved is a brave film: by addressing a taboo subject in a light-hearted, cheerful way, director Nabil Ayouch pushes things as far as he can in relatively liberal Morocco. Even so, the Moroccan authorities were outraged and banned the film. While the Moroccan authorities may tolerate prostitution in Marrakech, the house orgies involving rich Saudis belong behind high white walls, not on the big screen.
Leading actress Loubna Abidar had to flee to France after she was assaulted. Both Loubna and director Ayouch had to answer charges before a Moroccan court. The fact that Much Loved depicts a world in which women are their own bosses may anger religious believers even more than the sex, alcohol and coarse language. Noha (Loubna Abidar) is the proud matriarch of a cooperative of prostitutes. These are ‘working girls’ who pay doormen for information, routinely pay bribes to policemen and write off the occasional thump as a business risk. By remaining non-judgemental, Much Loved paints a refreshing picture.