In 1954, William Burroughs wrote that "Tangier is a vast overstocked market, everything for sale and no buyers." Half a century later, circumstances in the city may have changed, but that same sentiment finds itself modulated by a cab driver as he tosses a portentous glance to Badia (Soufia Issami) and tells her that "Tangier only gives to foreigners." The protagonist of Moroccan writer-director Leila Kilani's On the Edge, Badia is a young woman who's moved from Casablanca to Tangier to make a living. Hoping one day to land a job in the more prestigious factories of the city's Free Zone, we see her at work in a less glamorous shrimp processing facility, where the sterile whitespace is marred by the orangish slime and grime of piles of shrimp shells. That kind of grime permeates the film and the dingy, noirish urban environments that Badia wends her way through.
Badia isn't a personable or empathetic character, but as the driving force of the story, her behavior is a fascinating display. She seems continuously possessed by a hyperactive, twitchy nervousness, and her thoughts come across to us not via the steady drip of personal reflection, but in salvos, through internal and external monologues that serve as bursts of consciousness from a stormy mind. Everyone around her can sense the jagged edges of her personality; at work she's told that she may have mastered all the parts of the process, but "you don't fit in with the other girls." She's well aware of this, and doesn't plan to stick around; she has other goals in mind. The web of intrigue that drives the film comes from the other side of her life; in the evenings she goes out with her friend, Imane (Mouna Bahmad), parties with strange men, and then steals from them. On one of these encounters they meet another pair of girls, the thievery escalates, and complications ensue inside and outside the Free Zone.