A young French-Algerian woman travels to Algeria in search for her fiance. Determined to find his whereabouts, she is facing political and religious obstacles in a country that is struggling with the aftermath of a civil war.

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Follows the conflict between a young Algerian man and the local Islamic fundamentalists.

Director: Merzak Allouache
Stars: Nadia Kaci, Mohamed Ourdache, Hassan Abidou
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Cast

Credited cast:
Marie Brahimi ...
Yasmine
Karim Bouaiche ...
Hakim
Nazim Boudjenah ...
Rachid
Michèle Moretti ...
Aldjia
Abdelkrim Bahloul ...
L'officier
Boualem Benani ...
Omar
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jeanne Antebi
Louiza Habani
Fawzi B. Saichi ...
(as Faouzi Saichi)
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Storyline

A young French-Algerian woman travels to Algeria in search for her fiance. Determined to find his whereabouts, she is facing political and religious obstacles in a country that is struggling with the aftermath of a civil war.

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Drama

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7 November 2001 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Other World  »

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User Reviews

 
Yasmine and the war
3 September 2016 | by (Germany) – See all my reviews

The civil war in Algeria lasted for roughly ten years, and this movie was made during the end of the conflict, but before the violence of Islamist splinter groups had entirely ceased. It was almost completely ignored in cinemas and a copy on DVD is nowadays very hard to find. I had to subscribe to a french VOD service where they offered a low quality version of the film and that was only accessible with a VPN subscription. Why did I go through all this hassle just to watch a movie? I had seen L'autre monde in 2002 on a French/German TV channel. I remember the impact it had on the way I look at the more recent history of Northern Africa. It put Algeria on the map for me. It was due to this film that I went to Algeria myself in 2010.

The plot follows a young Algerian-French woman, who's fiancé went missing somewhere north of the Sahara. Yasmine, played by Marie Brahimi, looks like a darker, more strong-willed version of Jean Seberg. Her fragile appearance and delicate features contrast with her death defying determination, which comes from an almost obsessive love.

The film depicts a time after the conflict had reached it's gruesome climax. Things have quieted down in Algiers, the country's capital, at the time when Yasmine arrives in search for her lover. Overly cautious, she has clad herself in a black chador that covers everything but her face, much to the surprise of her uncle and cousin.

In Algiers, she connects with a middle aged police officer, who tries to dissuade her from her dangerous quest. Seeing her determination, he gives her a lead about the site where Rachid went missing when his army unit was ambushed by Islamists.

Yasmin decides to travel to this location in order to find any hint of his whereabouts. On the way, her taxi is assaulted by a group of radicals and all passengers executed – except her, mainly through the intervention of one of the attackers. Taken to the rebels hideout as a prize for their leader, she manages to escape during a raid of government forces, again with the help of the same young fighter. They both hide and Yasmine eventually makes her way back to Algiers, where she takes refuge at the family home of the police officer. He discloses the address of the family of the second soldier that went missing together with her fiancé during the ambuscade. Hakim, the young fighter who has left his extremist brothers, follows in her footsteps to protect her, as he says.

After meeting the unsympathetic family of her fiances companion in some remote desert town, she get's a hint of the hideout of the two deserters. Arriving at the place, she sees nothing but a couple of desolate ruins in the middle of the Sahara desert. A hidden brothel, as it turns out. At this point, about two thirds into the total running time, the movie changes pace and while it had been some sort of road movie thus far, it now becomes a desert utopia, if there is such a thing.

A most disparate group of people hide in those brothel ruins: a french Madam and her employees, a truck driver who Yasmine has met on several occasions during her trip, and finally Rachid and his insane comrade, who's psyche has snapped as a result of the horrors he had to witness. All these people including Yasmine have a thing in common though: they are survivors, free from ideology and political corruption. In their improbable refuge they have, against all odds, created a world that is almost humane, if it wasn't for the girls who had to sell themselves to passing motorists on a regular basis. Yasmine eventually finds out about the events and the journey of her lover Hakim and why he decided to support his benighted comrade. His own anguish finds some relief in Yasmines sensual affection, which she had to camouflage during the entire search. One afternoon, she loses her diary while running down a sand dune, and it is picked up by Hakim the young fighter, who has been lurking behind some rocks, observing everything that goes on in the brothel and it's premises.

In the night, being some Algerian festive day, with champagne and homemade cake, everybody finds love and some warmth; the blind madam, the insane companion and the traumatized Rachid. Healing and regeneration of the human spirit seems possible. The film lingers on the sensuality of it's protagonists as if it knew that it will have to end all too soon. And inevitably, Hakim makes his way into the compound, only to find Yasmine in the arms of her lover. Knowing nothing but violence, and with fragments of ideological indoctrination still lingering in his brain, he commits a massacre against the unsuspecting people. All is lost, all is destroyed in an act of pure senselessness. As the film ends, we see Yasmine again, her chador fluttering in the wind as she drives through the desert, accompanied by music from Algerian singer-songwriter Amazigh. The lyrics transport a feeling of resilient hope and seem to embrace everything that is wrong and at the same time hopeful in this divided country.

L'autre monde was probably ignored because it's desolate depiction of Algeria was going against the general prospect of peace in 2001. Secondly, it revealed the double moral standards that exist in many Islamic countries concerning religion and sexuality: it showed prostitution and illegitimate love in Islam.

The only critique that I would have myself regarding this film is the weak sub plot of the Islamist rebel fighters. I can only hope that, as time goes by and political opinions have settled, this film will find the audience it deserves. It is the best work by Merzak Allouache, and one of the best films to ever reach us from a North African country.


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