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Les hommes libres (2011)

Unrated | | Drama, Romance, War | 16 March 2012 (USA)
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In Paris during WWII, an Algerian immigrant is inspired to join the resistance by his unexpected friendship with a Jewish man.

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(screenplay), (screenplay)
2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Younes Ben Daoud
...
Si Kaddour Ben Ghabrit
Mahmud Shalaby ...
Salim Halali (as Mahmoud Shalaby)
...
Leila
...
Le Major von Ratibor
Farid Larbi ...
Ali
Stéphane Rideau ...
Francis
Bruno Fleury ...
L'inspecteur
...
Le chef de la Gestapo
Jean-Pierre Becker ...
Le policier moustachu
Marie Berto ...
Maryvonne
Zakariya Gouram ...
Omar
Slimane Dazi ...
Larbi
Aïcha Sokrane ...
La mère de Larbi
Djemel Barek ...
Le mari de Maryvonne
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Storyline

Paris, occupied France, 1942. Younes, an uneducated Algerian immigrant, ekes out a very modest living on the black market. When the police catches him they set him free provided he infiltrates the Paris Mosque and spies on the rector. Si Kaddour Ben Ghabrit is indeed suspected not only of providing false papers to Jews but of harboring some of them as well. Once within the precincts of the Mosque, Younes proves a poor secret agent, which displeases the police inspector in charge of him. In fact, at the mosque, Younes becomes every day more alert to the great tragedy in progress because of the Nazis. He also develops a deep friendship with a singer named Salim Halali. To his amazement, he discovers that Salim is both Jewish and homosexual... Written by Guy Bellinger

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

16 March 2012 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Comme nos enfants  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$9,080 (USA) (16 March 2012)

Gross:

$53,810 (USA) (31 August 2012)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

French visa # 126007. See more »

Goofs

The no right or left turn and U-turn signs we can see in Paris close to the end of the movie were respectively introduced in France in 1952 and 1967. See more »

Soundtracks

Madnak Gafah Maikadoh
Auteur: Ahmed Chawky
Compositeur: Mohamed Abdel Wahab
Avec l'aimable autorisation de le S.D.R.M.
(P) Pyramide Productions
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User Reviews

 
Not much good except for Michael Lonsdale
20 October 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Tahar Rahim plays Younes, a young Algerian in Paris during the Nazi occupation, planning to return to Algeria after he gets rich on the black market. Instead, he ends up joining the Resistance and helping a few Jews escape through the Paris mosque.

Rahim is a gifted actor. I first saw him in A Prophet, a so-so prison movie in which he gave a fantastic performance. Free Men has a great performance by Michael Lonsdale as the head of the mosque, and maybe that's why Rahim seems less impressive in this movie than he was in A Prophet. A Prophet made me an instant fan, but if I'd seen Free Men first I don't think that would have happened; Rahim is good in it, but not fantastic.

Another problem I have with Free Men is that the central relationship is between Younes and a young Jewish singer of North African music named Salim who has survived because the mosque gave him false ID as a Moslem. The friendship between Younes and Salim is supposed to be inspiring (I think), but it just annoyed the hell out of me.

First, the actor who plays Salim is an Arab, not a Jew, and he looks like an Arab, not a Jew. Trying to see the character as a Jew is practically impossible, but his Jewishness is key to the movie. If their friendship is supposed to exemplify some sort of grand utopian harmony between Arabs and Jews, it fails.

Second, Salim is supposed to be the world's greatest singer of North African music, but to me it was nearly unbearable, just a bunch of ugly, whiny, screechy, nasal noise. I don't mean to offend North Africans, but their music doesn't sound like music to me (Lots of American music is even worse, though, including punk, heavy metal and rap).

Plus, the guy playing Salim is so ugly that I couldn't look at him for more than a few seconds at a time; he has weird eyes that reminded me of the Emperor's yellow eyes in The Empire Strikes Back (or maybe it was Return of the Jedi), only Salim's are a strange unnatural blue color. Better casting of that role might have helped this movie a lot.

So I don't recommend Free Men. The only things I enjoyed were Lonsdale's performance and seeing a sort of street-level view of what Paris may have been like under the Nazis, which I don't think I'd ever seen before.


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