Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cannes Dispatch #9 - "Outside the Law"

A busier day than expected, and I'm going to pack as many films as possible into Sunday - the entire competition slate is screening all day, and I'll be doing my best to fill in my blanks so far. This, therefore, will be my last entry from France. Once I've arrived back in the States and recovered from jet lag (let's say Wednesday or so), I'll put up an entry or two more about a few notables that I haven't yet addressed, as well as my reactions to the awards (which are revealed Sunday night) and my own picks for festival favorites. Before I go, though, here's a few thoughts on a film that I don't feel like talking about that much.

Outside the Law (dir. by Rachid Bouchareb) - In Competition
As aforementioned, this has inspired plenty of political tumult, but the filmmaking itself is hardly that interesting. Bouchareb is a thoroughly mainstream filmmaker - one who's interested in bringing an Arab's version of the history of France and its colonies to the masses - and he can achieve Spielbergian zest in his filmmaking sometimes (consider his rousing war epic "Days of Glory"). But "Law" feels like a half-hearted "Godfather" retread - oddly enough, considering that the film is about Algerian revolutionaries acting covertly in Paris. This is mainly because Bouchareb is far less interested in his character's psychologies here than he was in "Glory", which was gratifyingly thorough in getting into the heads of his characters. Two of the three central brothers (Sami Bouajilla and Roschdy Zem) are solemn, humorless sons of the revolution here, which also means that they are boring. The movie only sparks to life when the third brother, played by Jamel Debbouze (also the most fun at the press conference), bursts onto screen doing one hell of a sleazy Peter Lorre tribute as a pimp/boxing-trainer who could care less about Algerian independence.

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