Gripping, intense, human and loyal yet inhumane and brutal is just scratching the surface of Rachid Bouchareb's Academy Awards nominated film 'Outside the Law'.
The plot anchors around three Algerian Brothers. The film is introduced with the French Colonists taking the land of the young brothers family with threat of death. We then skip forward to the adult lives of the 3 brothers scattered around the globe. The eldest brother Messaoud (Roschdy Zem), strong, handsome, deep and forced to fight for the French Army in Indochina. Abdelkader (Sami Bouajila) the middle brother, quiet and intelligent, detached from emotion and starting his journey into the Algerian independence movement. Finally Saïd (Jamel Debbouze ) the youngest rogue brother that makes his living through prostitution and boxing rackets. The three are drawn back together through the love for their mother in the shanty town of Pigalle. The spine of the film is the rarely covered and brutal colonisation by the French Army and the equally murderous Algerian independence movement of the FNL. However, it is the parallel story of the three brothers personal battles and quests for recognition becoming entwined with their nations fight for independence that gives the film beauty and emotion.
I hold my hands up to say that I am no expert on the foreign film industry but make no apologies for seeing similarities between this movie and the mesmerising 'City of God' (2002)
Scenes of brutality, genocide and needless death are shot with integrity and cinematic beauty. Bouchareb uses light with wonderfully skilled craftsmanship. Every shadow feels like it has definite place in the composition of the visuals. The locations of the shanty towns encapsulate the emotions of fear and anger within the small alleyways of deprived society. Amongst the evil and violence is an emotionally gripping tale of family, love and betrayal. The curtain raising scene of the brutal murder of thousands of protesters in Setif sets the tone and has you lost in the anguish of innocent for the duration of the movie.
The 3 lead roles are acted with passion and empathy resulting in strong performances. In particular, Debbouz, a successful French comedian plays the torn and misunderstood Saïd brilliantly.
This is clearly a shout from Bouchareb for the FNL to be under the spotlight and acknowledged for what they did but he does not glorify any of the extremists actions as justified revenge. Bouchareb gives the viewer insight into the pain caused by gaining independence and the pain felt by its actions.
The DVD includes a 26 minutes 'making of' where Bouchareb explains how this movie was created and a continuation from his 2006 film 'Days of Glory'. Also included is an 11 minute interview with the director and his insight into the film.
Fully deserved of any nominations. Bouchareb has created a powerful, beautiful and brutal masterpiece that deserves recognition in the mainstream.
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