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Friday, February 11, 2011
Outside The Law (Hors-La-Loi)
Brother In Arms, And All In For Algeria
Sami Bouajila as Abdelkhader in Rachid Bouchareb's epic period drama "Outside The Law (Hors-La-Loi), which opened today in San Francisco and several other cities in the U.S. Cohen Media Group
by Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com FOLLOW
Friday, February 11, 2011
"Outside The Law" (Hors-La-Loi) is Algeria's entry and nominee for the best foreign language film Oscar, and it's more than worthy of its nomination. Rachid Bouchareb's epic drama is set after the end of World War Two and follows three brothers who fight for Algeria's independence from France. The film opened in San Francisco and expanded to other U.S. cities today, a day where history has been made on another part of the African continent.
After their Algerian home is disintegrated, Saïd (Jamel Debbouze, "She Hate Me", "Amelie", "Angel-A") flees Algeria to Paris to run a boxing gym and become a fight promoter. Messaoud (Roshdy Zem) fights for the French in Indochina. Abdelkhader (Sami Bouajila) is a leader of the Algerian independence movement FLN. Each has his own idea of how the fight for Algeria should be conducted. Immense obstacles, including France's brutal "Red Hand" covert law enforcement operation, will stand in the way of three brothers' fight for freedom.
As written and directed by Mr. Bouchareb, "Outside The Law" begins as a war story, unfolds as a portrait of fraternal tensions, but flows best as a crime story. Throughout there's a documentary feel, with actual footage of Algerians and French in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. This majestic triumph of a film has a large, authentic canvas that absorbs you. "Outside The Law" is procedural but always engaging. Its point of view is solidly rooted in the fight for justice, though the film's title applies to the tactics employed by both sides of the bitter war for liberation.
The film presents thoughtful characters forced to make decisions that will change their lives and their country forever. Each of the three brothers are indelible as performed by Messrs. Debbouze, Zem and Bouajila. "Outside The Law" is focused, dignified and entirely sincere in its storytelling. The film never stagnates or deviates from its goal: to dramatically convey the stark realities of politics and passion in a turbulent era in history. Mr. Bouchareb's drama doesn't stop for an obligatory love story even though there's a fleeting possibility of one when two characters meet.
"Outside The Law" is a striking and powerful portrait of a family in transition, standing between brotherhood and politics. It's not a film that is as immediate or as intense as Gillo Pontecorvo's phenomenal landmark "The Battle Of Algiers", but it is a film that pulls you into its urgent moments. Beautiful cinematography by Christophe Beaucarne illuminates Mr. Bouchareb's film, and Armand Amar's music score is graceful and wonderfully measured.
Grand, revelatory and entertaining, "Outside The Law" deserves the Oscar and your time on the big screen. It's a spellbinding and masterful movie worthy of its stage.
With: Bernard Blancan, Thibault de Montalembert, Samir Guesmi, Sabrina Seyvesou, Chafia Boudraa, Assaad Bouab, Jean-Pierre Lorit, Ahmed Benaissa.
"Outside The Law (Hors-La-Loi)" is not rated by the Motion Picture Association Of America, but contains violence. The film is in the French and Arabic languages with English subtitles. The film's running time is two hours and 16 minutes.
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