Going nowhere defiantly: a rough manifesto from an unacceptable civil state
"Kafka says that the Statue of Liberty has a big stick in her hand, " says Zina (Samira Kaddour). "For him to talk like that, it's certain that his visa was refused!" answers Kamel (Rachid Amrani). This sprightly young couple in Algiers grew up in the middle of warfare between government forces and the Islamist opposition so constant over the last decade they're hardly aware of the danger as they talk about leaving the country and wander around looking for a means to get out. In what director Tegua calls "a slow-motion road movie" they go around in a borrowed car along nameless streets, in industrial lots, in house of friends or acquaintances, or in nearly empty houses. One house has a corpse in a bath, and a couple of abandoned passports. Before that, they get hauled in to the police station for nothing other than having a coffee and sitting in a bar with a friend. Zina's independence of manner and dress are provocations, but she gets away with them. The cops try to seize the car Kamel has borrowed from his uncle. Driving around aimlessly, they get stuck because of the curfew and stay with friends and party and get drunk.
Kamel made pizza in Milan. We see him make it for a friend. There's a scuffle in the dark, near the port. Another guy talks of leaving illegally. Kamel and Zina discuss passports. He's bribed a sailor to get him out on a boat and wants her to come with him. During the curfew they go to visit an older man who says he was assigned to guard Eldridge Cleaver while he was in exile in Algeria during the 1970's. "You're fleeing slaves," he says, alluding to their desire to leave the country. "That's not my line." He cites D.H. Lawrence: "America is a republic of refugees," and says typically they know what they're fleeing, but not what they're seeking.
The director suggests his film is "happy," not a "tragedy," "a film without guilt, about the simple joy of being alive even if the life here only amounts to a supposed good mood of the characters who cross an urban desert."
Some scenes are cut off abruptly and the continuity between them is not especially good, images are a bit murky, and the audio is uneven. As a government-sanctioned Italian Catholic website (ACEC) says, the film wasn't chosen to be shown in Venice in September 2006 for "the precision of its mise-en-scène or for its production values. It's a kind of manifesto film, a declaration of a state of emergency from a state whose civil order can no longer be discerned." The film, this writer points out, asserts that borders are not real limits. It's a portrait of a state of mind, young, defiant, hopeful but ironic.
Shown in competition for the SKYY Prize New Directors series at the San Francisco International Film Festival 2007.
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