Sirens Review: Poignant, Thoughtful Documentary About Lebanese Metal Band [Sundance]


Metal music may not be to everyone’s liking, but Slave to Sirens, an all-woman Lebanese metal band might make one think differently about it. The band is so passionate about their music and Sirens, the documentary directed by Rita Baghdadi, hones in on how they use it to express themselves in a politically and economically unstable country. Slave to Sirens is a five-member band, but the documentary focuses on its two founders, Lilas Mayassi and Shery Bechara. Thought-provoking, beautifully edited and told, Sirens explores the band members’ relationship with each other, gender, and conformity in a society that isn’t always open about such things.

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The film starts off focusing on the band’s music and their trip to a music festival in the UK. It isn’t long before Baghdadi shifts to center Lilas and Shery, who work incredibly well together as music partners. As the story unfolds, the pair’s history is revealed: Lilas and Shery are childhood friends who were also romantically involved. As Lilas began to become interested in other women, the two started growing apart. Lilas likes women, but she’s also uncomfortable being open about it to her mother and others. Her relationship with her mother is strained, with the latter expecting Lilas to only move out when she finds someone to marry. Baghdadi captures Lilas’ turmoil , her affecting commentary, and the joy of performing especially well.

Sirens is poignant and thoughtful in the way it explores Lilas and Shery’s experiences. Their lives are colored by Lebanon’s instabilities — citizens march during the 2019 revolution to protest the government and its corruption, the 2020 Beirut bombing, and the economic crisis, among other things — and Lilas, especially, struggles with being herself because she feels she won’t be fully accepted. This bleeds into Slave to Sirens’ music, which is a representation of their feelings and freedom of thought. However, it isn’t all about the sadness or sense of rebellion, with Sirens digging deeper into its subjects’ interiority, their friendships, and how they engage with those around them.

With voiceovers by Lilas and Shery throughout, Baghdadi beautifully captures the essence of the band, and why they gravitate so much to metal music, especially as they’re the Middle East’s first all-woman band. The film’s ability to get incredibly personal is what makes it a stand out. Shery and Lilas have great chemistry and their friendship is at the core of the film as they both work through communication and personal struggles. In a society that has its ups and downs and so often doesn’t feel safe, they are each other’s rock and Slave to Sirens, by extension, a radical expression of who they are.

The one major issue plaguing Sirens is the lack of overall focus on the Slave to Sirens as a metal band. There’s very little information about how the five members met, at least besides Lilas and Shery. To that end, Sirens fails the other band members, who barely get any screen time, and the making of their music. What are the other band members’ lives like? Do they struggle with similar things? Sirens doesn’t really dig into all of that and leaves out that which could have been engaging and pertinent about their backstories.

What’s more, Baghdadi follows the group to one of their gigs, but it isn’t until the very end, during the credits, that the audience gets to see more of their performanceshttps://www.imdb.com/title/tt10014534/. The interpersonal drama and the individual focus on Shery and Lilas is great, allowing Baghdadi to dig deeper, but Sirens could have showcased more of the music and the band’s journey as a whole so as to get the bigger picture. Regardless, Sirens is definitely worth watching for the way it tells Shery and Lilas’ stories in particular, and the way Baghdadi frames their lives, even if the music aspect could have been expanded upon.

Sirens premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. The film is 78 minutes long and is not yet rated.

Our Rating:

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About The Author

Mae Abdulbaki (1107 Articles Published)

Mae Abdulbaki is a movie reviews editor with Screen Rant. She previously wrote about a variety of movies and TV shows for Inverse, CinemaBlend, Pajiba, and The Young Folks, where she wrote reviews, features, news pieces. Her other work can be found at The Mary Sue, Film School Rejects, UPROXX, Heroic Hollywood, Looper, The List, and Bam Smack Pow, among others. Mae has also appeared on television segments, podcasts, and panels to discuss all things entertainment.

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