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Writer Director Rachid Bouchareb's first view of the Algerian
involvement in France's participation in World War II as the
extraordinary DAYS OF GLORY from 2006. Now he continues his story of
the bravery of the Algerians in OUTSIDE THE LAW (HORS-LA-LOI) using
many of the same actors but placed in different roles. This is a
fast-paced film that covers a lot of territory and time and gives an
insider's view of how the Algerian soldiers and the Algerian people
struggled post WW II to gain freedom from French colonization. On many
levels the films works well: on the level of character development and
audience empathy it stumbles - but doesn't fall.
The film opens in 1925 when a family in Algeria faces the French representative who informs a family that the government is taking their ancestral land and home: Le père (Ahmed Benaissa), La mère (Chafia Boudraa) and their three sons Saïd, Messaoud and Abdelkader. Understandably devastated they pack their scant belongings and leave. Jump to 1945 and the massacre of Setif, an event that forces the family to disperse: La mère with Saïd (Jamel Debbouze) move to a shantytown for Algerian refugees outside Paris and Saïd becomes involved with organized crime in Pigalle to support his mother (he begins as a pimp, then as a Cabaret owner, and moves into more dangerous activities such as fixed boxing matches, etc). Messaoud (Roschdy Zem) has become a soldier with the French army in the fruitless war in Indochina (Vietnam) and observes as the French retreat that external colonization of a country will always fail because of the inherent patriotism of the indigent people. Abdelkader (Sami Bouajila), because of this participation in the resistance during the Setif Massacre, has been imprisoned in France where he gains insight from his fellow Algerians that they must revolt and fight to regain independence for Algeria. Once reunited Abdelkadan becomes the driving force behind the Algerian's FLN movement. He is the local figurehead and brains, while his brother Messaoud acts as the muscle and bodyguard. Brother Said continues his pursuit of money through shady night clubs and as a boxing promoter, but he is never far from his brothers' sides - even if he isn't quite as politically motivated. The film jumps to the 1950s and the early 1960s following the development of the Algerian resistance as it becomes a murderous group, assassinating the French officials and police, engaging in fierce gun battles, all the while under the malicious eye of their nemesis Colonel Faivre (Bernard Blancan). As deaths in the family occur the family dwindles but always with the promise to each other that Algeria will gain its independence, a fact the is revealed through historic film footage from 1962.
The film is a tense reenactment of battles and crime scenes, but there is a problem with the script in detailing the personalities of each of the characters beyond their devotion to Algerian independence. Even a marriage and the birth of a son and the death of the mother fail to substantially affect the three brothers beyond the expected reactions. The actors are all excellent but without the benefit of a script that allows them to offer us unique and meaningful individuals they become tropes. As a viewer remembering the brilliance of Days of Glory this film is strangely uninvolving. There is a sense that Rachid Bouchareb feared condemnation by either the Algerians or the French. Much can be said in favor of that stance: no one is 'right' or 'wrong' in war. But at movie's end we are left oddly outside the emotional aspect of the film that was the key to the success of Days of Glory. In the end this is a very well made and powerful film that answers many questions about the French Algerian conflict few of us understand.
Greetings again from the darkness. I am certainly not qualified to
offer an expert opinion as to the historical accuracy of the film, but
I can say that it provides a seemingly realistic view of the horrible
situation and struggles endured by the Algerians during their fight for
independence from France during WWII.
The story is a sequential sequel to director Rachid Bouchareb's film "Paths of Glory" and centers around 3 brothers who are separated during the horrible massacre at Setif. Messaoud (Roschdy Zem who was the best thing about "The Girl from Monaco") goes off to fight as a soldier for France; Said (Jamel Debbouze) takes his mother and moves to Shantytown in France and becomes quite the street hustler; while Abdelkadan (Sami Bouajila) is imprisoned and absorbs all that he sees.
Each of the brothers endures much hardship until circumstances serve to reunite them in Shantytown and the real mission begins. Abdelkadan becomes the driving force behind the Algerian's FLN movement. He is the local figurehead and brains, while his brother Messaoud acts as the muscle and bodyguard. Brother Said continues his pursuit of money through shady night clubs and as a boxing promoter, but he is never far from his brothers' sides - even if he isn't quite as politically motivated.
I found all three brothers interesting in their own right, but the film is just so downbeat as it tells this story, that I just never felt engaged. That's not to say the mission of the Algerian people during these two decade period isn't amazing, because it certainly is. It's just this film doesn't really offer much in the form of telling the story. This one is nominated by the Academy for Best Foreign Film, so obviously many thought better of it than I.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The standalone sequel to Rachid Bouchareb's 2006 film Days of
Glory,Hors-la-loi starts at a time on which the previous movie ended.
The Algerian-African soldiers, who fought for France against the Nazi
Germany in the previous movie, this time, fight against the imperial
France for Algeria's independence. The fact that some actors have acted
in both movies create a sense of interconnection, indeed.
Against the backdrop of patriotic struggles of three Algerian brothers, the movie questions both the legacy of modern Western Europe and the hard-line policies of Algerian front of national liberation. From the three brothers, Abdelkader (Sami Bouajila) does a long stint in jail because of his opinions. Messaoud ( Roschdy Zem) goes on serving France as a soldier in the revolt against French rule known as the First Indochina War. He gets impressed by the determined struggle of the local Vietnamese. Saïd (Jamel Debbouze) feels obliged to leave his hometown Setif after the known massacre. He just takes his mom and leaves for France. Though he is not as politically motivated as the other two brothers he always takes his place beside his brothers. Abd-el-Kader, along with the help of Massoud, awakens a new soul of liberation movement in places like Renault workshops and local pubs. Said runs a cabaret and organizes box matches in a place where he started off as a pimp. Using Algerians in false ID and disguise, the liberation movement executes every important French police officer or soldier. The French decide to fight 'terrorism' with its own weapons so they create a secret organization which takes the appearance of a criminal organization and they indulge in 'terrorism' too.
In some ways, Bouchareb's movie reminded me of "La battaglia di Algeri " but Bouchareb should take credits for his guts. He never tries to present the viewer a rosy picture of the revolution. The liberation movement does not recognize love or brotherhood on the grounds that there should be no personal passion and gain. Just because the cause is just, the party takes away every individual value out the lives of its members. That's why Massoud never sees his son grow up properly and Abdelkader threatens to kill his brother if he lets his boxer fight for France. Besides,the movie does not ignore the clash between two separate Algerian nationalist movements, MNA and FLN. Some right-wing French people criticize the movie because of its so called 'anachronisms' and some others call it even 'anti-French' but Bouchareb does not really anathematize the French. In the movie we see communist French activists who actually help the struggle of Algerians. Bouhareb may have forgotten that cinema is, on some levels, a light entertainment. He may not have made the perfect movie which is about conveying the whole truth, but at least he tried to do portray a part of his country's immediate past. Outside the Law is not an anti-French movie but it is surely an anti-colonial movie which deserves critical acclaim.
Outside the Law details a period in French-Algerian history from the
end of the Second World War to Algerian independence. It follows three
Algerian brothers who move to France and take completely different
paths. One of them joins the French army, another becomes a political
radical, while the third embarks of a life of crime. All of them are
eventually brought together in the unified cause of Algerian
independence and equal rights. It begins and ends with notorious bloody
Much seems to have been made about the liberties that this film has taken with the facts surrounding certain key historical events. I am not in any position to say if this is a justified complaint or not, as I simply do not know. However, I think it's only fair to say that the plot-line follows a historically accurate path; whether or not the emphasis of events is skewered or not I can't say but, if so, it would not be the first time in cinema history that a film exaggerates for dramatic effect. Whatever the case, it's certainly a period in history that hasn't been depicted in films very often from what I can gather.
While I did enjoy the film, I didn't think it was nearly as good as Rachid Bouchareb's earlier film Days of Glory. That latter film dealt with a similar theme - the difficulties French Algerians have experienced in their adopted land. I felt that Outside the Law didn't share that movie's sympathetic characters or its dynamic plot trajectory. It's overall a much more down-beat story.
Viewed at the Festival du Film, Cannes 2010
There's no doubt France's colonial history is a treasure trove for film makers, and the country certainly has some coming to terms to do with its past, but Outside The Law, for all the fuss it raised in Cannes (including a protest by former white residents of Algeria), is, sadly, a missed opportunity.
True, the film does try to cover all the bases, and the French treated the Algerians appallingly, both in Algeria and in France itself. But what comes out is a very anodyne and clichéd soap opera about three brothers who eventually end up taking criminal paths, either within the Algerian terrorist movement or the underworld.
Although great care has been taken with the costumes, sets, props etc. to create a very credible sense of period, Outside The Law is let down by its script which, in striving for balance and neutrality, robs the films of any drama or tension and purses a by-the-numbers narrative. Everything is signposted in advance and duly arrives on time.
Outside The Law is to be applauded as a start in tackling this incredibly complex and still painful subject, but it's not a very good one. The protesters, who most likely had not seen the film, would find nothing to fear here. And they too also have a story that should be told. Whether other film makers pick up the gauntlet remains to be seen, but I suspect box office results for this film will show that this is a market best served by TV documentaries instead.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Well, unlike many "historians", I didn't want to talk about this rather
controversial picture without seeing it. At the Cannes International
Movie Festival, in May, there was a riot because of this feature. Many
people claimed that film was not faithful to the real history. Maybe
they are damn right. Maybe not. I am not a historian. If I was, maybe I
would tear this film in pieces, I probably would wipe it out. But as
far as I am not a historian, I won't speak of it any further about real
or not real facts that happened or not. Period.
I like this movie so well played by powerful actors. Characters are convincing and some sequences really poignant, heart breaking. This film is not flawless, although. But which one is?
I expected an "oriented" movie, as Rachid Bouchareb did with his prevuious film: INDIGENES, where he told the audience what to think. I hate that. Here, this is different. I was afraid of a good Arabs vs bad French people scheme. And I was actually pleased to see that it was not the case. Every one is grey, no white people, not dark either. Every one fights for his own convictions.
And the audience can have his own opinion.
I recommend it. And that's my own opinion too.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was expecting a bit more from this movie. The conflict in mainland
France between the French government and Algerians fighting for
independence between the 1940's and the 1960's seems ready made
material for a gripping movie.
The film wears its heart on its sleeve. The first scene shows an Algerian farmer being given a few days to vacate his land to allow a French colonist take it over. The farmers three sons are the main protagonists for the rest of the film. One joins the French army, one is arrested in 1945 and imprisoned in France and the third moves to France with their mother in the hope of finding a better life.
We follow the brothers progress as two of them become involved in the independence movement and the third makes his money as a pimp and and nightclub owner.
For some reason, even though the injustices perpetrated by the French government are undoubtedly heinous the movie never convinced me to empathise with the brothers situation. I thought the film dragged a lot as we follow the progress of their differing but intersecting careers through the 1950's and early 1960's.
The movie's climax is a rather traditional shoot out with the police followed by a chase through the Paris metro.
While the movie is technically well made and the acting in general is excellent for me it is a chance missed to make a great movie about this traumatic period in the relationship between France and Algeria.
Guess what... I never took History in school. It was not through lack
of want, believe me. So it was only during this World Cup I discovered(
From the commentators, no less ) that GASP Algeria used to belong to
France. And now, I find myself watching a film about that very
struggle, for them be an independent nation. Coincidence, no?
Encompassing about 40 years, Outside The Law centres around One Algerian family as they are forced to give up their lands and move into skid row. There are three brothers, and as they grow up we see them take on very different fates: One becomes a soldier, the other a revolutionary while inside prison, and the last sibling joins the criminal underworld. Eventually, all their paths will collide in the dramatic (and long running) saga of Algeria's eventually successful quest to govern itself. Will Scotland follow suit? Don't hold your breathe.
A wise man once told me: "There is no good film that is too long, and no bad film that is too short". Never a truer word spoken in this case. as it clocks in at just over two hours... yet I was enraptured till the (very bitter) end. The twist-laden plot takes us from one well directed set piece to another, as bullets fly like confetti and bodies are strewn around without mercy. But despite all this chaos, it still has the time for quieter reflective passages which are just as effective. In fact, maybe even more so. It all combines to create a jewel of a movie. Fantastic.
Oh and if there are historic inaccuracies in this script (Which I'm sure there will be) I'm not going to mark it down for that. I'm a critic, not a teacher. Mind you, considering how clueless most of the educators I've met seem to be, maybe that's just as well... 8/10
It is tough to show both sides of the same medallion, but the movie
tries to do just that. It's true that there is a predictability to it,
but the characters portrayed by really good french actors give it their
best and the movie is worth watching. It is of course handled as
mixture drama/thriller to attract a bigger audience, but that does not
have to be a bad thing.
I personally liked the Grey area kind of handling/treatment the story received, but I can see why some felt it wasn't rooting for one side or didn't engage the viewer with more involvement in the story. But the characters all act naturally and upon their instinct(s). Of course some things are convenient and to get more information on the background you might need to do further research (and/or look at the deleted scenes of the movie), but that is true of many "historical" (or "based on") movies!
First of all this is my first review! So why did i choose this movie? Because in my opinion this movie is really underrated and has a low score which is a shame! The other reviewers say that this is a sequel to "Days of Glory" , i have not seen "Days of Glory" but "Hors-la-loi" is a great piece of cinema. Many people such as myself rely on IMDb score and user reviews prior to seeing a movie , and many may be putt off by a score of 6.5 , but believe me and give this one a chance. It's a gritty and noir movie which tells its story without holding back anything! The acting is very good the directing likewise and the cinematography is great. Overall it has some flaws but there are no perfect movies. So if you like movies in general and don't care about the little things than WATCH THIS MOVIE!!!!
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