Star rating – 8/10
This highly recommended film tells the story of three brothers who suffer the indignity, along with their rural farmer parents, of being evicted in 1925 from the Algerian land and home that has been in their family for generations, due to French colonials who want to claim it as their own. This injustice , together with the mass slaughter of innocent Algerians protesting through the streets of the Algerian town of Setif for their civil rights in 1945, forms the backdrop to the different paths that the brothers take.
The trio are played movingly and powerfully by Roschdy Zem as Messaoud, and Sami Bouajila as Abdelkader, who both determine to fight to the death for the Algerian cause, and by Jamel Debbouze as Saïd, who quickly learns to take a different path as he uses pimping and nightclubs to fight his way out of their poverty. It is a pretty epic tale, with the brothers and all their flaws depicted without romance, to tell the tale of the fight which did ultimately result in independence for Algeria.
The first of many murders committed in the cause of the revolutionary FLN (National Liberation Front) is made all the more brutal as a local restaurant owner who does not agree with their chosen path is garrotted to the strains of ‘Rock Around the Clock’. My only real gripe is that the characters of the women are pretty miserly, and that much more could have been made to powerful effect of the wives, mothers, and would be girlfriends that they meet along the way. Unfortunately they remain as mere shadows. But that apart, this is a great film, with a powerful and controversial point to make – I am told President Sarkozy does not approve – which might be a great reason to check it out.