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Close to fabulous
Aziriphale9 April 2005
As I watched this movie, I became more and more curious, because of the director's obvious love for music. In fact, not only did he direct the movie, he also created much of the music that added up to a stunning soundtrack. But when I get back to my computer, I see that I have in fact already seen a movie by him - Swing - in which wee Max develops an understanding of gypsy culture and guitar playing. He is also famous in certain quarters for Latcho Drom, a movie I have never seen.

Exiles has, at its heart, a road movie. Zano is an Algerian in Paris, completely cut off from his roots - the film opens with him staring out of his flat window over the rooftops, no doubt imagining a different life, because he turns to his girlfriend, Naima, and says "lets go to Algeria". As you do. Naima is harder to work out - for the most part, she seems pretty banal, trivial even, interested solely in her own immediate pleasures. So, when she's in a bar one night, she thinks nothing of slinking off with another man just because he gives her the eye. But there might be reasons - they're not well explored, but it is suggested that she is even more rootless than Zano, with absolutely no expectations. Living for the immediate moment makes sense in that situation. I've said that she's his girlfriend, but I may have over-stated it: we see nothing at all of their prior relationship and only learn that they have a shared history of making porn flicks. Zano doesn't know her well enough to have been told her birthday. It may even be that by the end, she does find a connection within herself, is grounded. If she is, it is music which does it for her.

So, anyway, they are ostensibly walking to Algeria, but we see very little of them actually walking - trains seem to be the preferred mode. They jump a train to near Seville, not Seville itself because the ticket collector is on his way to check their non-existent tickets. They spend some time picking fruit around Seville, and having sex among the (I think) nectarine trees - gorgeous images in this part in particular, with the lush green leaves, the brilliantly red-skinned fruit and two beautiful people playing with each other. Seville, it turns out, is something of a staging post - they meet several Algerians working the fruit fields making their way to Paris because, there, you can get fake work papers. So, there's a nice point being made about our heroes doing the reverse, going to Algeria from Paris for their specific dream of getting in touch with their background. As they get closer to Algeria, they meet more and more refugees flowing the other way.

Their trip is otherwise fairly straight-forward, apart from stealing a ride in a van onto a ferry that's not going to Algeria at all, with a consequent need to take a long ride through near desert in a ramshackle bus that breaks down, after which they're smuggled across the border. The two things that stand out throughout their journey are the scenery and the music - in all the pubs in Seville, we see these impromptu gatherings of musicians just jamming. The back seat of the bus has three or four musicians to provide a live sound track for the trip.

When they don't have live music, Zano and Naima are both plugged into their respective disc-mans - giving Gatlif and his musical collaborator, Delphine Mantoulet, a chance to show off their music. I think this was deliberate - but as they approach their destination, there is less and less reliance on this recorded music and local live music predominates. This culminates in the final main scene - there's a gathering of musicians - a handful of percussionists with little bongo type drums held on their shoulders, a fellow with something not much bigger than a ukulele but with a much deeper sound, and various female voices, ululating rather than singing. Their tempos starts slow and reaches the orgasmic. Naimo is more and more feral in her dancing - she completely lets go and is controlled by the music. I really do think that this is showing her developing a connection with her roots: after all, it follows a scene in which she's told that her vacancy is down to being entirely groundless.
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Warts and all, but I really enjoyed this
writestuff-121 September 2004
Beautifully-filmed road movie with long musical sequences. The tale of two losers that hit the road to reach Algeria from Paris is peppered with vibrant musical interludes that echo their journey back to their roots, from nose-bleed techno, through passionate flamenco to raw Algerian trance. Once they get there, Gatlif loses his hand a little by not concluding the story. Naima is portrayed as a loose cannon throughout the movie, with hints to her past and a huge question mark over her future. Neither of these is I think is answered conclusively. On a sidenote, is this not one of the most explosive women on screen since "Betty Blue"?

But a pretty entertaining tale very well played by the two lead actors, Lubna Azabal and Romain Duris.
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Not the tourist's Algeria
Red-12515 April 2005
Exils (2004) (Exiles) was written, produced, and directed by Tony Gatlif. I saw this film at the 2005 Cinefranco Film Festival in Toronto. (www.cinefranco.com)

This movie is a odyssey of sorts. Both Zano, played by Romain Duris, and Naima (Lubna Azabal) live in France, but have ties that draw them back to Algeria. The film follows their slow but determined trip southward.

Since they are traveling without funds--or even a map--they naturally need help from others along the way. These interactions with the people they meet on the road are fascinating. The two characters are not exactly role models for today's youth, but you have to admire their tenacity and their unwillingness to turn back.

Not a masterpiece, but an interesting movie that's worth seeking out.
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Voice for the different and the ignored? Freedom or anarchy?
Marcin Kukuczka12 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I saw EXILS in the Polish cinema recently as a part of the sequence "psycho vibrations" with a group of students. After the movie, we had a little chat together with the organizer of the meeting. Most of us agreed that the movie by Tony Gatlif is different than most of the films we see nowadays. Although EXILS is in no way outstanding, there are some aspects worth mentioning, the things that make it a must see for open minded viewers but, at the same time, it may be a huge moral spoiler.

Music is, I think, the most important aspect that needs to be mentioned. The viewer is supplied with a wonderful musical experience throughout the whole movie, is provided with the experience of various sorts of music, from Techno through Flamenco, yet to the Algerian trance. As a result, you, in a sense, take part in the experience that the main characters, real music lovers, get through. You watch the movie and let yourself be drown into the perfect music. The most intense experience moment is when they dance in Algeria, the trance is becoming more and more intensified at every single second. It very much affects the audience.

Besides, the movie quite accurately presents the reality of immigrants, the problems they have to cope with, and the culture clash. Although the emphasis is drawn to a couple, Naima (Lubna Azabal) and Zano (Romain Duris), the major topic of their plot is being on the way from France to Algieria in order to find origins. On their way, they meet various people, most of them are immigrants who left their homelands in the hope for a better life. They are like the violin masoned in the wall, as it is showed in a symbolic scene when Zano masons his violin. In this case, the film seems to be a voice for the ignored but this message is not so clearly noticeable.

SPOILER: Stereotypically perhaps, due to the fact that EXILS is a French movie, there must be some nudity, which is a serious moral spoiler. But people who overdo with Puritan blame directed towards any sex scenes will not find much accusation in EXILS. There are very few moments that openly show naked Naima and Zano. Some are not appropriate and disturbing, like the first shot of the movie, but some are not that bad. For example, the scene when they are making love in the garden is fairly well made, it is not vulgar but totally filled with sexuality directing our attention to the pleasure of the couple. And, moreover, I found apples pretty symbolic in this scene.

SPOILER: The movie, however, does not make much use of the locations and landscapes that the main characters visit. It is only said that they are in Spain but hardly anything is showed. There is only a landscape of Andalusian territories noticeable as Naima and Zano are traveling by train and a moment look at Paris, but that is it. Therefore, it is not true that you will have a chance to admire various places in this movie.

SPOILER: And the content of the movie does not have much to offer. It is an attempt to show the life without any more profound sense, without any spirituality. The only "god" for the main characters is music. Consider how Zano replies to the question of a Muslim who is keen on their religion - "My religion is music". Therefore, EXILS does not show life as a moral value whatsoever. It appears to be nothing more than time spent on realizing loose habits, fulfilling sexual desires, and listening to music as the best relaxation. As a result, the life of main characters is not that much an individual freedom any longer but moves towards sheer anarchy.

Nevertheless, the whole movie is worth seeing as a different look at values and at filming convention. Although it is not a memorable movie in general, some moments may remain in memory. We are all hidden in this world like the violin masoned in the wall. The gist is to find the sense of life and what the sense will be depends entirely on every individual. And a must for music lovers! 6/10!
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Freedom and belonging
paul2001sw-12 December 2007
In Tony Gatlif's distinctive film 'Exils', we meet a young French couple: he is ethnically French, she is Arab, but both had Algerian ancestors, and the movie follows them after they spontaneously decide to abandon Paris and investigate their roots. The couple are presented in the film as very sensual, and the music and images that surround (and define) them are shared also by the viewer. The film touches on some interesting ideas, notably the not always chosen trade-off between freedom and belonging, and ends with a remarkable extended sequence depicting an Arab ritual of personal abandonment that bears comparison to (and is in fact more disturbing than) anything from 'The Exorcist'. What it doesn't have is much of a conventional plot beyond the collage of sights and sounds; and the characters, though strongly-drawn, do not evolve dramatically over the course of the movie. It's still a striking piece of work; but fiction is being used here, rather than serving as an end in itself.
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Art school film with a great soundtrack
U9226 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
A young couple, Zano (boy) and Naima (girl), of Algerian origin return to Algeria to get a sense of their ancestry and family history. It's an incompletely told story, as bumpy and random as the trip it describes. I can't say whether that was deliberate.

SPOILERS FROM HERE ON: From the lingering opening shot of Zano's thoracic back region, accompanied by a headbanging, shouted, angst-ridden soundtrack vocalised by someone I could only imagine had not washed in a month and was recording this while angrily waving a picket sign in front of a government office, I found it full of forced significance/symbolism and gratuitous, pretentious art shots, as well as containing clichéd lines, soap-operatic plot twists, and overused, unconvincing acting devices reminiscent of "Closer". It's the sort of movie ... er ... FILM you're supposed to go out afterwards and discuss seriously over cappuccinos, using sophisticated words like "persiflage", "paradigm", and "transcendent", so everyone knows what a deep thinker you are.

For starters, I found it difficult to like either one of the couple. I'm not even sure the viewer is intended to like them. I think Zano was meant to be brooding and profound and Naima wildly sensual; however, to me they came off as sulky and slutty/borderline insane, respectively, and both far too self-absorbed to care about.

Zano's beard was neatly trimmed throughout their rough, dirty, and water-deprived adventure, and their wardrobe and bedding were far more voluminous than the single bag he had slung over his back could ever realistically hold, not to mention that their clothes were always clean and pressed. Naima got away with far more than she really would, wardrobewise, in a country where women are expected to be covered from head to toe.

I couldn't help but be amazed at the privacy they enjoyed for their tryst in the orchard. Who knew that orchards, in the middle of a working day during picking season under the watchful eyes of a critical supervisor, were so private? Earn $$ while you date, away from prying eyes; free food included. I'll be washing my fruit more carefully from now on.

The cinematography is amazing, although its subject matter is often depressingly squalid.

Barring the opening number, the soundtrack was mostly excellent if you like raw World/fusion music (I do) and both story and characters became more compelling and likable toward the end, after they arrive in Algeria.

The climax scene, depending on your taste, either goes on for far too long or represents a truly interesting, in-depth example of Zar, a North African version of exorcising personal demons via a major, rhythmic, music-assisted, full-body, trance-inducing tantrum. I didn't time it personally, but read somewhere that it goes on for some 10 minutes and that sounds about right. I found the community support for the dancers incredibly moving and just sat there thinking "I could use me some of that." Actually, I think a lot of people could. This scene, along with Zano's earlier visit to his parents' former home and the reception he encountered there, were the only scenes in Exils that truly touched me.

It struck me that Naima's nuttiness through most of the film seemed to be an unconscious attempt to enact a Zar ceremony. She certainly seemed a lot saner, cleaner somehow, after the Zar, as did Zano.

I think Zar is maybe what raves try to be.
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let the images and the music talk! great movie!
johanz29 August 2005
If you have the ability to get a story from great images and great music, you might adore this movie as much as I do. If you like traveling, this is a journey into the Arabian world, and also towards the inner soul.

The plot and story are not on the surface, but there's enough, if you are able to take it... Maybe it helps if you're not too much part of the individualistic, and sometimes very empty and flat western society these French Algerians are getting away form, to find their roots...

An auditive and visual pleasure, a sexy and messed up trip to who they are, and were they wanna be... And it's a great pleasure to get there with them!
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To go is to return
Mariana Cornejo15 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
A road movie told by the book: The growing of the character through the road. Two characters without a past or future. The matter is the "here" and "now". And a soundtrack most people would want by the end of this picture.

The initial sequence may be a homage to the "throwing the jar of beer" sequence of Trainspotting, but it settles the tone of latent violence in the whole movie. After some sex a couple just want to go to Algeria, just like that. The same if you are watching the football game and want to buy a pack of gum at the seven-eleven. After that, there's only one word to define how you feel when you see this: Unconfortable. Most of this feeling comes from the fact that this people random like a feather in the wind, going back and forward in their journey as well as in their relationship. After an unnecessary long final exorcism sequence (and if you saw "Twenty-nine palms" and 1975's "Laure") you are enough paranoic to expect the worst. By the end, you will leave a sigh of relief for sure. There are good sequences, good acting, Lubna Azabal is sensual, Romain Duris is good, anyway, you'll decide what you conserve and what you throw away. And, yes, the soundtrack is superb going from the modern electronic hybrids, passing through the flamenco, until the source of all in the Algerian (and therefore by extension African and eastern) types of music. The music composed by the director, Tony Gatlif, is so good that you may wonder if the whole movie was just a big excuse to sell you the soundtrack (and sorry, Mr. Gatlif). But this factor certainly raises the level of the film. And the theme of the road movie also gives a chance to shoot an attractive cinematography. It's up to you.
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A beautiful movie
rogermanning9958 January 2008
"Exils" is terrific on many levels. Beautiful composition, locations, light, cinematography, performances, and music. The story moves from one marvelous setting to another. The shot's are beautifully composed. The people are "real." I'm amazed that one of the previous reviewers is disturbed by sensuality. It seems that the characters are a bit too real for that person. I'm surprised at the number of other reviewers on this site that fail to connect with the essence of "Exils." Maybe they've never traveled on the cheap or experienced the beauty of random meetings and relying on the good will of strangers. Watch it again if you have the time.
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An experience not to be missed
valandil-112 July 2006
A spiritual journey for the characters and audience alike. I saw this film at a film festival not knowing what to expect. There is not much plot or drama and for viewers seeking those they might be disappointed. What this film does have though is spirit and at intoxicating levels too. The cinematography combined with the music and the journey of the characters combine to put the receptive audience in a kind of trance. An especially memorable scene is a 15 - 20 minute long scene in which the female heroine is exorcised Algerian style, building slowly to a trance. The whole scene is filmed as one shot and the camera is more of a participant than an observer. An experience not to be missed.
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Multicultural journey
mario_c13 January 2008
This movie is a bit weird, but it's a nice multicultural experience though. It's about a man and a woman which are French but have Algerian routs that go on a journey (on a walk trip!) to find out these routs in Alger. They cross the south of Spain and meet many people, from Arabs to Gypsy. This film is very interesting from the cultural point of view, but is a bit weird sometimes, because we don't know anything about these characters, who are they, where they came from. Just during the trip we start finding out something about them, but even so many questions still open after the movie ends. It's an artsy movie, that's for sure, with a great cultural and musical impact, but it gets a bit strange and boring at parts. The plot could have been better, but I'll score it 7/10 because of the great soundtrack (which has Flamenco, Arab and Electro/Techno music), the very weird tribal-ritual scene (near the end), and also the artsy cinematography.
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Fantasy Time
talltale-15 August 2006
EXILES is a Tony Gatlif fantasy, complete with lots of music and dance, of what it might be like for a young French couple of Algerian roots, to hitch their way from France back to Algeria (for most, these days, it's the other way 'round). The two seem not to have much or any money, but then they do, but then they don't. They occasionally work to pay their way (with a rather laissez-faire attitude, I must say), screw (not always with each other), and have beaucoup psychological problems. For a couple who carries no baggage, there is way too much emotional baggage here. That's usually the mark of a young filmmaker, but as Mr. Gatlif is nearing 60, I guess we'll have to chalk it up to something else.

I call his film a fantasy because, try as I did to believe these characters and their situation, I couldn't. Or, if they ARE believable, then they are also sometimes simply too stupid to be endured: the couple sneaks aboard a ship without knowing where it's going; they haven't bothered to bone up on Algeria enough to know that certain of its borders have been closed for several years; worst of all, they have no clue that women in Muslim/Arab countries are expected to cover themselves (the year here is 2004, well past 9/11/01, and these are Frenchies, for Christ's sake: If they are not used to Algerians, who the hell IS?). On the plus side we have a lot of color, music and dance, nice cinematography (dig that succulent orange near the finale) and the gorgeous Romain Duris (most recently of "Russian Dolls" and "The Beat My Heart Skipped"). Mr. Duris, hirsute and slender, appears fully nude, front and back, in a rather lengthy shot at the film's beginning; this may be more than enough to induce some viewers to stick around. Did I mention that the film deals in fantasy?
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I tried my best to enjoy it: Disappointment
gitane8221 June 2005
I had been waiting to watch this movie for at least 6 months,since the French cultural center in Jordan announced the programme of the monthly screening of a french movie. My enthusiasm came from my acquaintance with Tony Gatlif's music through the soundtrack of his movie "Vengo" which will always be one of my all times favorites; so full of passion and authenticity. Also later on I purchased Swing's OST of which I had the chance to watch only the last scenes on TV. So this time I was waiting -or couldn't wait- to live the complete experience of Gatlif's blend of music & images.

I have NEVER left in the middle of a movie,no matter how horrifying or boring it was, and it is really disappointing for this to be my first time for a film i was so impatient to see. I found the sexuality to be greatly disturbing, but I actually left because it seemed like it was the only thing that was going on. For the first hour of the movie very little music was played (for a movie for which the main raison d'etre is the music itself!). As a viewer I didn't enjoy any of the scenery as the couple traveled, nothing impressive,characteristic or memorable. Same would go for the actors' performance. So instead of walking out with my soul drenched with great universal music, I walked "away" in a terrible frame of mind. Truly a painful and a shocking experience.

I have rated 2 instead of 1 (awful)for the sake of the only soundtrack I really enjoyed (and had the chance to listen to before I left), which is the flamenco at the bar scene. I wish there was more of this passionate music through the first half of the movie for I would have stayed till the end. I don't mind a certain degree of sexuality and a plot less movie as long as the cinematography and the enchanting music would make up for everything.
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inter culturally revealing, and no holds barred!
k-kimberley7 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
May contain spoilers. EXILS Two people searching for their roots? Thats what I expected, and instead it appears more to resemble a road movie.

Interesting though, as the somehow insane story progresses, and what fascinated me about it: The two main Characters of Zano and Naima find their INNER roots: through the people they meet, their ways, looks, music and rhythms, in a way that differs from their expectations, as it differs from that of the spectator.

Zano, the Frenchman is the one to suggest this trip to Algeria. Born in Algeria of french parents who remained very french all their lives -to judge by the photographs Zano is shown of them- feels more and more french the farther he gets from that country. Naima on the contrary, the "real" Algerian? possibly with Gypsy roots, laughing at first at the idea of going to Algeria and resisting all the growing evidence of her non-french roots, is eventually penetrated to the core in the trance ritual.This sequence may be long but is somehow so genuine, that instead of boring the spectator , draws him in with a similar force that conquers Naima.

One of the most genuine culture presentations seen in a Movie, revealing and exciting and maybe a contribution to inter cultural understanding and acceptance.
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Of catharsis
aFrenchparadox22 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
If you happen to like Flamenco music and/or North-African music, you will enjoy this film just for this. I happen to like both and found myself watching at 10-minutes-long scenes of just music and dance without being bored and being on the contrary fascinated (the Gnawa trance scene is properly amazing). Some lines of the scenario could have been developed though. The two characters are both going to Algeria looking for their roots. But she's the daughter of an Algerian whereas he's the son of two French who used to live in Algeria when it was still French. And despite this he seems to be the one feeling the most at home when they finally reach Algeria. Highlighting that identity is not about genes, but a social construct emerging from education, familial history and personal history (at the very least). Highlighting also the difficulty of being between two cultures, and the difficulty of being always sent back to a culture people ascribe to you because of your biological roots, putting you in a box doing so. Anyway this is something just showing on the surface briefly. I am not sure Gatlif was intending to explore this, I feel rather that the principal character of the film is music, especially when I remind myself that Gatlif also wrote the soundtrack. However if he wasn't intending it, this would be somewhat more remarkable, because we could assume Gatlif's subconscious is expressing itself here, the director being himself a former French of Algeria. But this would be exactly what is problematic in how the feminine character is welcomed: assigning feelings according to origins, without knowing anything of the person's history. So I won't assume this and will stay on the great feeling left by the trance scene: fascinated. And will consider definitely that music is the hero here, because music originating long ago like Flamenco and Gnawa is far more than entertainment and can even be a catharsis tool.
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Comment about Aziriphale's summary ...
anmarika1 September 2005
...just commenting on the bit where you mention porno flicks - I didn't have the same take on the situation in this regard. My impression is NOT that they were actual porn actors, but that Zano is basically accusing Naima of being a bit of a slut and to insult her he says "where did you learn to f^&* anyway?" to which she replies, "I learned from porn films like you!". The story alludes to the fact that Naima has had a bit of a rough life so far and this may be why she has issues with intimacy leading to promiscuity. Also, the story also hints that Zano and Naima haven't known each that long before they decide to go on this road trip-hence some of the conversations the couple have to find out more.
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I enjoyed it.
111-1111---Lois---DAMN24 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this film at the Chicago International Film Festival, and I must say that I enjoyed it. I was really skeptical because I had thought that all French movies were just stupid sex-filled movies. Sure, this film has its share of nudity, but it doesn't distract from the story. You know nothing about these characters once the film starts except that they like to eat and drink naked in an apartment. For the next 1.5 hours you get to know little snippets from the past of their lives and hope to know more about what they want and what they need. On the path to Algeria, they evolve more as friends and as people to the audience, and not just as techno-music-blaring punks. By the climax of the film, the true characters come out of their young shells. They deal with their past in emotional ways (I won't spoil it) and leave the audience with a sense of accomplishment as the credits roll.

I do have complaints that stem from the way it was presented. First of all, the subtitles in the version I saw were inconsistent, meaning that sometimes people would speak and I would see no subtitles. Otherwise, this is a great movie that I highly recommend.

movie 9.7/10 presentation 8.7/10
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PoppyTransfusion23 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This is a gritty film about the plight of migrants' children and the present day struggles for those migrating from Africa to Europe. It is a fractured road moving with a pulsing soundtrack that draws a person deep into the belly of experience.

Zano and Naima are lovers and second-generation French/Algerian migrants. We learn that Zano's family fled as political refugees after his paternal grandfather was tortured and murdered in prison. His parents died in a car crash when Zano was a child when they were, ironically, travelling back to visit Algeria. All that he has left is a family violin that he cements into a wall before leaving Paris to head for Algiers. Naima's family are more mysterious and we learn little about them aside from the references to a scar she bears and the pain they caused her. Her behaviour with men is erratic and overly sexual and she speaks of the struggles she has suffered financially. A viewer can infer from these what her childhood and family life may have been.

This couple take to the road to walk and hitchhike to Algiers. They take few belongings with them. The only luxuries are their music sets and headphones. Along their route they befriend an Algerian brother and sister intent on travelling to Paris for studies. They spend a night in the camp of gypsies in Spain and visit flamenco clubs. They work with other African migrants from Morocco, Algeria and West Africa picking fruit and see one of them being taken away as an illegal migrant - the lot of migrants wanting to reach Europe for better lives but who do not meet the punitive visa requirements imposed by said European countries. Zano and Naima meet people smugglers in Morocco, where they travel in error and are helped across the border to Algeria. These people smugglers are kind, do what they are paid to do and have human faces. Throughout people they meet ask them if they are Arab or gypsy and why they do not speak Arabic. Thus underlining the extent of their exile.

Once in Algiers Zano and Naima find their way to the home of the brother and sister they met and deliver a letter written by the sister to her mother and older brother. The letter ensures the care of Zano and Naima as they explore Algiers and try and find their parental roots. For Zano returning to his parents' apartment is enough to bring him home as kindly neighbours who knew his family have kept the apartment almost as it was and have his family's photos too. Naima's return to her roots, and here we discover that the director is concerned with the internal roots as well as external, is more fraught as she is conflicted about her family. She and Zano are taken to a celebration where they feast and listen to traditional music. A wise old woman, a seer, speaks to Naima to help her come back to herself but Naima continues to resist the powerful pull to come home, to Algiers and to her own body.

Gradually the music at the feast becomes more ritualised and a kind of incantation begins that invites frenzied and possessed dancing from the women present whilst others chant and women shrill. The music overtakes Naima and we see her surrender at last to the Algerian within her and Algeria around her.

The film ends with this powerful scene that was shot in a single take. By the end of this scene it is hard to resist the primitive roots within, roots that take me and, I imagine, most people back to a people, their people, whose existence runs contrary to the one I/we currently live. Through the music and the patched meetings between Zano and Naima with others the director Tony Gatlif evokes the many ways in which a person can be exiled. It is possible to read a political polemic from the film and equally it is possible to be touched more intimately by the characters we are introduced to, their dreams and sufferings, a journey home and an amazing soundtrack. At some level all of us that dance to the beat of money rather than the beat of instruments are exiled.
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One of the worst movies ever...
ggingembre8 April 2006
I was very impatient to see this movie as I thought it would be a reflection on identity punctuated by beautiful photos, but I got very disappointed. I had never left a movie theater before the end of the movie, but I just could not stand it for this film.

First, I found the characters absolutely uninteresting. The director gives no incentive for the viewer to "like" these two losers, who have absolutely no depth and who are vulgar. It is a crucial problem for a plot whose major theme is "search for identity"... Empty characters are not good subjects for an exciting introspection.

Second, there was no interesting discussion / scene. Most discussions are about sex, or are complaints in a very basic, low class French.

Third, I found the movie was politically biased. The director seems to try to add "an intellectual touch" to his movie with comments about socialism or History that come without context, and whose objective truth is questionable. This does not add anything to the movie, and it just reinforces the impression that this is a very fast-fetched work.

Only some "photos" were positive in this film, but these rare moments cannot make up for the overall mediocrity of characters and dialogs.
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this film is not for every moviegoer
Serhat Koç9 October 2006
at first i thought that it was not a good idea to see this film.And after watching it at a film festival in Ankara.I agreed that it's not a bad movie but has some good moments. But i can even cannot understand how Gatlif could achieve best director award at Cannes with this one? because there is no such points that directing shines in this one.But acting is just fine and using the music is the key for the film.

this film is not for every moviegoer,however it speaks about north Africa-french connection.and especially the people have great grip to life with music and traveling,finding their real path.

but in fact the movie lacks of some special elements for being a perfect one tells the story of exiles i think.

when the credits are shown you think that is it enough?where is the plot anyway.

i can say no more about this one.

i say you that you can go and consider that it touches your feelings for yourself.
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pleasantly surprising!!!
happy-bunny27 May 2006
I watched this film on French TV recently, and I was pleasantly surprised. I'll admit the main reason I watched this was Romain Duris, who I was so impressed with in De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté. This is actually a really good movie, the music especially really fits well with the scenarios, which is what one would expect from a film by Tony Gatlif. The direction is good and the story is told at quite a pace, so you won't get bored.

I watched this without subtitles but that didn't cause me a problem at all. Some parts are really funny (i.e. Zano trying to talk Spanish) and others really sad (Zano crying). I'd certainly recommend watching it especially if you fancy something different from the hum-drum American-ised film style. I really enjoyed seeing this, as it isn't entirely dependant on language, but instead has scenes where the emphasis is on movement, vocalisation and music.

After I watched this I found I kept thinking about it - always the mark of a film that connects with you in some shape or form. However, I warn you, this film may give you the urge to go road-tripping to Algeria. 8/10
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