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Film Review: ‘The Man From Oran’

4 March 2015 9:32 AM, PST | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

There’s so much good in the first half of “The Man Rrom Oran” that the unfortunate slide into melodramatic territory disappoints but doesn’t wipe away the trenchant cynicism that comes before. Impressive multihyphenate Lyes Salem directs, writes and stars in this epic drama about Algerian independence, seen through the relationship of two men, one a modest idealist, the other a consummate wheeler-dealer. Aside from superb acting, “Oran” is particularly notable for the way it questions Algerian foundational myths, used to disguise one-party rule. Multiple award wins at festivals including Abu Dhabi and Brussels should catch programmers’ attention.

A November rollout in France saw decent returns, but controversy, including a fatwa, delayed the film’s Algerian release until late January. Touchy conservative supporters of the ruling Fln party objected to scenes of revolutionaries — their founding fathers — meeting and drinking in bars, though clearly the real reason for their objections »

- Jay Weissberg

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2015 | 2013 | 2012

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