Self-confidence tuning spiced with sex – this is what a trip to Egypt means for a retiree living in perfect invisibility in his country, where young local men call out older tourists in seconds. But not only them: young women are also coming to the country, although they have not fled from the taboo surrounding aging, but from jerks, Polish men. THE Darling, I love you! The documentary shows how sex tourism in Egypt works and flourishes, taking advantage of the fact that everyone satisfies their hunger in a different way with the other: women want love, men want money, and these two find each other on the streets of Hurghada.
Although HBO is putting European content in a difficult situation, you can find hidden gems like the one shown in 2010 Darling, I love you! documentary, which was recently added to HBO Max. Although the title could refer to one of the thousandth romcoms in the afternoon program of a TV channel, the essence of the film lies behind the sentence. These are the words an Egyptian taxi driver says in broken English to a Polish woman in her sixties who approaches him, roughly four minutes after they meet. The woman just winks with her carefully styled pink artificial nails, as she hasn’t just come down from the wall protector either, but it is precisely the courtship of young Egyptian men who are extremely matter-of-fact that brought her to Hurghada.
The documentary presents three women who came to the Egyptian tourist paradise with one goal: to enjoy the siege of the local men. Some for love, some for care, some just longing to finally be noticed on the street. The fact that Eastern European – typically Polish women come here for this purpose has already grown into a phenomenon, and for what there is such a great demand, the supply is also developing accordingly.
The fate of one of the women arriving here is particularly interesting: the pensioner in her sixties is bored with the gray everyday life in Poland and being a grandmother.
Her fate mercilessly exposes society’s attitude to aging: according to her own words, a woman over fifty becomes invisible, the pensioner becomes a curse word, thus forcing her and her companions into a box from which it is simply impossible to break out.
And while her body has really aged, her soul would take part in the same adventures as in her youth, from this point of view the surprising fact that a lot of aging Polish women come to Egypt only and exclusively because of young men becomes understandable. The woman who leaves her grandmother’s shackles at home apparently blossoms immediately – or, as she puts it, becomes visible again – and on the street people see her as a woman again, and what’s more, she is besieged by men with their suspiciously fast-flaming love.
However, before anyone can think of the phenomenon that Egyptian sex tourism is all about grandmothers on shields grinning for sex, let’s get to know the other two characters of the film: two young Polish girls in their twenties who are also looking for love. They are the ones who think that Polish male society is intolerably male chauvinistic, where courtship is exhausted by men slapping women’s bottoms with pig jokes. They shed light on the other aspect of sex tourism, the fact that you can escape not only from the grandmother stigma all the way to Egypt, but also from disrespectful and boring men. Criticism of conservative Polish society is also revealed in their reports: Poland is called a country without tolerance, where judgment and rejection are national sports. One of them is so good at dating that, according to her own admission, she falls in love with a man in just fifteen minutes, whom she marries within a week, and is already planning to convert to Islam. However, it shouldn’t necessarily be, as the film also points out:
the marriage contract signed in the district attorney’s office is typically annulled by Egyptian men after the woman has left the country, as an Egyptian man’s “real” Egyptian wife can only be a virgin.
And just when we think that the film is clearly on the side of women living under various oppressions, it starts to make men speak as well, so that the picture is complete and ultimately heartbreaking. The professional seducers, who make a surprising number of women beautiful at the same time, speak, and although one of them only names the prosaic reason that he loves sex, two other speakers show where the dog is buried: in women’s wallets. They also share basic tricks: first, you have to ask for money for your sick mother’s medicine, or to top up your phone with the reason that you can send even more love text messages. For Egyptian men, this is clearly an opportunity to make money, so that they can start their business, open a business or shop, while they persuade wealthy women to their plan with the twisted argument that if he could stand on his own two feet, he could support the woman later with the money. The film also mentions the real top performance: one of them built a complete hotel in one year as a prosthetic of a Swiss woman.
The woman regains her confidence, in return she buys a smaller shop for the man, so the woman only wins
– says, or rather proves, the Polish pensioner, who shows that he really lives by this and is actually in the gray zone of prostitution.
Also a great decision Anna Blaszczyk on the part of the director, that she included another type of man in the film: those Polish men who come to the holiday paradise because of the women, but rather get annoyed by the serial rejection, and the fact that their female compatriots manage to find a partner in just a taxi ride.
Sometimes I’m ashamed to be Polish
– says one of them, and their behavior perfectly illustrates what the two younger girls said earlier about Polish men. Endlessly frustrated men speak dismissively about sex tourism, and they also have extremely firm, but not very flattering, opinions about the women who participate in it. One of them eventually reveals the sad truth:
These women sleep with everyone but us.
So, while on one side there are women who otherwise seem particularly determined and self-confident, who, according to them, are exactly aware of the nature of things, on the other side, Egyptian men rubbing their fists show the romances that are purely motivated by money behind the illusion. The end of the film heartbreakingly shows who is actually beating whom: while the pensioner explains with sparkling eyes that he can indeed believe the sadness of the man who said goodbye to him in tears at the airport, one of the Egyptians shares another trick with those interested in the career of a professional womanizer. :
if you cry at the airport, maybe he will transfer the money to you from the plane.
Darling, I love you! (Darling I Lowe Ju), 2010, 59 minutes, available on HBO Max.