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Free Men (2011)
"Les hommes libres" (original title)

Unrated  |   |  Drama, War  |  16 March 2012 (USA)
6.6
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 968 users   Metascore: 58/100
Reviews: 9 user | 49 critic | 10 from Metacritic.com

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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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Younes Ben Daoud
...
Si Kaddour Ben Ghabrit
Mahmud Shalaby ...
Salim Halali (as Mahmoud Shalaby)
...
Warba Shlimane alias 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
Edit

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 | War

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

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

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

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

 
A forgotten page of history
31 January 2013 | by (Montigny-lès-Metz, France) – See all my reviews

"Les hommes libres" may not be outstanding in terms of cinematic art. This is definitely not an avant-garde film. It is true that the director, Ismaël Ferroukhi (who previously gave us the sensitive "Le Grand Voyage"), is content to illustrate the screenplay he has written. That is the reason why most French film critics (who dislike a film with a beginning, a middle and an end but without any particular effects) looked down on this yet interesting, informative and thought-provoking piece of filming. So just disregard what they say and watch "Les hommes libres". You will not be let down.

The story (written by Ferroukhi and Alain-Michel Blanc), set in occupied France between1942 and 1944, revolves around a character named Younes, an Algerian immigrant who surprisingly evolves from petty black marketeer to informer for the French collaborationist police to Resistance fighter. He is one of those interesting characters who are buffeted by circumstances and end up heroes without them suspecting it in the slightest. First only interested in getting money to survive, Younes will be forced by the French police to spy on the rector of the Paris mosque, of whom the Nazis have every reason to think he helps Jews. This will in fact be his road to Damascus, for instead of enjoying working for the forces of evil (like "Lacombe Lucien" did in Louis Malle's masterpiece), he finds out that the occupiers and their sycophants are up to no good. And although reluctant to take action at first, he is finally persuaded to fight for the French Resistance.

Even more interesting, because more ambiguous, is the relationship Younes develops with Salim (a singer of Algerian origin, both Jewish and gay) who has taken shelter at the Mosque. Salim is at once a gifted singer and an engaging and charming human being, a tortured creature and a sometimes unreliable friend. Younes, despite his lack of education, has already understood that the Nazis are evil but, through Salim, he becomes aware of something even more essential : a human being's rights must be defended even if this person is imperfect.

Well made on the whole (one defect being an occasional lack of rhythm), posing genuine moral problems, very well acted by Tahar Rahim (whose "shy" style of acting becomes his naive character to perfection) and Mahmud Shalaby, already excellent in "Une bouteille à la mer" (a young actor who manages to combine natural charm, depth and intensity as Salim), "Les hommes libres" has the great merit to unveil the heroic role played during World War II by the Paris Mosque and its rector Si Kaddour (jauntily embodied by another great man, actor Michael Lonsdale). I had personally never heard of this major historical figure and I do not think I am the only one. So, let us thank Ismaël Ferroukhi for this revelation rather than criticize him for not being an avant- garde artist.


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