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Film Review: ‘Don’t Tell Me the Boy Was Mad’

4 June 2015 3:05 PM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Premiering out of competition — and by extension, out of the spotlight — at the same edition of the Cannes Film Festival that begat “Son of Saul,” polemical French director Robert Guediguian’s “Don’t Tell Me the Boy Was Mad” grapples with many of the same questions of irreparable damage and historical representation that surround another of the 20th century’s unreconciled genocides, albeit in a far less conceptual or arresting way. Addressing the still scandalously under-represented Armenian tragedy not via the mass exterminations that targeted his own ancestors, but rather through later generations’ subsequent attempts at revenge, Guediguian sides with the activists’ cause even as he condemns their methods. While the subject deserves further attention, the hard truth is that this “crazy story’s” moral complexity, combined with the lack of a clear protagonist, renders its telling dramatically inert — and therefore unlikely to significantly impact attitudes either in France or abroad. »

- Peter Debruge

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2015 | 2014 | 2011 | 2009

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