Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. France/Algeria/Belgium/Tunisia/Italy, 2010. Tessalit Productions, Agence Algérienne pour le Rayonnement Culturel, EPTV, Tassili Films, StudioCanal, France 2 Cinéma, France 3 Cinéma, Kiss Films, Novak Production, Radio Télévision Belge Francophone, uFilm, Quinta Communications, Eagle Pictures, Ministère Algérien de la Culture, Centre National de la Cinématographie, Agence Nationale pour la Cohésion Sociale et l’Egalité des Chances, Fonds Images de la Diversité, Région Provence Côte d’Azur, Quinta Studio Tunisie, Cofinova 6, Cinémage 4, Canal Plus Image, Uni Étoile 7, Canal+, CinéCinéma, France Télévision, Le Tax Shelter du Gouvernement Fédéral de Belgique, Umedia. Screenplay by Rachid Bouchareb. Cinematography by Christophe Beaucarne. Produced by Jean Brehat. Music by Armand Amar. Production Design by Yan Arlaud. Costume Design by Stephane Rollot, Edith Vesperini. Film Editing by Yannick Kergoat. Academy Awards 2010. Cannes Film Festival 2010. Toronto International Film Festival 2010.
The origins of the independent nation of Algeria are examined through the experience of three brothers in this captivating drama by Rachid Bouchareb. It unsparingly shows the brutal nature of French colonialism that inspires these men to take whatever actions necessary to make their country free, which they do from their vantage point of living in a shanty town in post-war Paris with their aged mother. Intellectual Abdelkader is frustrated with political activism and, after a stint in prison as an undesirable, is pushed to extremes; Messaoud returns from battle only to find that he is a second-class citizen despite defending his country in the war; Said is less interested in political idealism and more focused on getting ahead, opening a club in the City Of Lights and enjoying the high life. Lines are drawn in the sand, killings of colleagues and enemies alike occur on a regular basis, and after so much struggle these men are left wondering what humanity there is left in them that could possibly enjoy the realization of their dream. Comparisons to that other notable film about the battle to free Algeria will be impossible to avoid, but keep in mind that this one is less about the rigorous process of moment-to-moment intensity and much more an investigation of the personalities behind all the drama. Bouchareb’s descends into soapy tangents from time to time, and it doesn’t hit as deep as his wonderful Indigenes, but because he is wisely as harsh in his depiction of the French oppressors as he is skeptical of the many facets of his Algerian heroes, his film is always intelligent.