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Saint Ibrahim
rainking_es3 September 2004
Paris, France. Late 50's/early 60's. Momo is a teenager who lives alone with his father in some poor and decadent neighborhood, full of prostitutes and where people of any race and religion live together. He's a jew but he doesn't care that much about religion and what it means. In fact, he can only think about girls and sex; but he girls of his same age wouldn't have sex with him; so he hires a prostitute (and he gets keen of that -so much that he'll become close friends of some of the hookers of his street-). However, his life ain't easy at all: her mother went away years ago, his father doesn't love him ... and it's getting harder everyday; but he finds comfort and friendship in Ibrahim, a Turkish shopkeeper that will become the most relevant figure in Momo's life.

"Monsieur Ibrahim" is a movie about tolerance, about friendship, about real commitment. Every sentence that Ibrahim says to Momo is full of wisdom and simplicity; they're just like darts to be stick in the eye of every single fanatic, racist, and intolerant person in this world. It's a movie about kicking out prejudices. A Jew and a Muslim who love each other, who respect each other, who listen each other. Too wonderful to be true.

The story is constructed in two parts: the inner/initiative trip of Momo, his discovering of sex and love, his discovering of the huge wisdom that Ibrahim and wants to share with the young boy; and the car trip to Turkey together with Monsieur Ibrahim in which he'll learn about different cultures, and religions, and the different ways of life here and there, all along Europe till they get to Ibrahim's birthplace: some little village in the mountains of Turkey.

The film it's been filmed with the same simplicity that Ibrahim shows in his personal philosophy, with a sober and rather neo-realistic style. Young Pierre Boulanger (Momo) gives the perfect reply to Omar Sharif (Ibrahim), an outstanding actor in state of grace. It's a pity that Mr. Sharif had made too many bad films in the last 30 years. His talent has no limits, and this calm serene and tender Ibrahim proves it. I dare to say this is his best performance (and maybe his best film) since Doctor Zhivago.

My rate: 8/10
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moving coming-of-age story with a starmaking performance
Buddy-5110 October 2004
'Monsieur Ibrahim' is a fine coming-of-age tale set in 1960's Paris. Young Pierre Boulanger gives a remarkably assured performance as Moses, a Jewish teen living with his cold, skinflint of a dad in a less-than-savory part of town. Abandoned by his mother and living in the shadow of a brother who has himself fled the scene, Moses leads an embittered existence, seeking surcease in the beds of the local prostitutes who ply their trade on the street where he lives. Moses is finally befriended by an aged shopkeeper named Ibrahim Demirdji, a Safi Muslim who, after Moses' father commits suicide, adopts the boy and instills in him valuable life lessons, gleaned from his religious training and his long years of experience.

In terms of its storyline, 'Monsieur Ibrahim' offers little that is new here (the idea of an older mentor figure raising an orphan child of a different religion goes at least as far back as 'The Two of Us' in 1968 and probably much further) . Where it excels is in its tenderhearted view of daily life and in its subtle plea for understanding between Arab and Jew. Moses is an almost heartbreakingly ordinary kid, a fact which makes his story all the more compelling (he has much of the rough-and-tumble poignancy of the boy in 'The 400 Blows'). We can identify with every emotion he is going through on his painful journey to adulthood: his fears, his insecurities, his need for acceptance, his appreciation of simple kindnesses. Moses lives in a world where life can sometimes be cruel, but where fellow human beings reach out to help one another in their moments of greatest need.

This is a beautiful, heartfelt film that doesn't stand on its head to try and impress us. It seeps into our hearts one scene at a time, until, by the end, we realize what a profound emotional impact it has had on us. Veteran actor Omar Sharif is wonderful as the solid and wise Monsieur Ibrahim, but it is Boulanger who is the real revelation here. This amazing young actor is the true heart and soul of the film, an absolute natural. He is very rarely off screen, and he rivets our attention on his character in a way that most highly paid movie actors can merely dream about doing. I hope he makes many more films in the future.
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A film of singular grace
Chris Knipp18 March 2004
Monsieur Ibrahim (the American distributors have left out the "flowers of the Koran") is from a novel that was made into a play by a popular writer named Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt. The French editor's blurb goes like this: "Paris in the 1960s. Momo, a twelve-year- old Jewish boy, befriends the old Arab grocer living on Blue Street. But appearances can be deceptive: Mister Ibrahim is not an Arab, Blue Street is not blue, and maybe the lad is not Jewish..." This is the coming of age tale of a boy who, when his depressed father runs away and throws himself under a train, is adopted by an old "Arab" shopkeeper (actually Turkish) who has become his adoring mentor and solace.

Moïse, nicknamed Momo (Pierre Boulanger), gets laid on his birthday with one of the cutest of the prostitutes who line the street where he lives. He goes back and forth to school and at home fixes dinner for his sad, stingy dad and gets the food from Ibrahim's épicerie down below. Momo's a sweet boy who's full of the joy of life and finds his father's grimness annoying. He gets little revenges like hogging the toilet when dad's laxative is kicking in. The movie is intimate and lovingly textured. Everything happens in the crowded Parisian street. It's summer. Momo puts on a thin white shirt over his undershirt and rehearses his opening to the whore: "Quelle chaleur! C'est combien?" ("What a scorcher! How much do you charge?") The light is beautiful. Pedestrians flow on the narrow sidewalk. The camerawork hugs the scenes, intimate but unobtrusive. Momo has to make his own birthday celebration: he's sixteen in the movie, so it's legal for him to go with one of the ladies. His sexual initiation is sweet too, simple, not saccharine. His father is always comparing him unfavorably with a missing older brother Popol ("Paulie") who was bookish. But Popol didn't have to do the shopping and fix dinner as Momo has to because his mother has left them. Momo doesn't remember Popol. Monsieur Ibrahim says he likes Momo 100 times better than Popol. Later it seems Popol never really existed. . .

It's hard to describe this film - which the 71-year-old Omar Sharif came out of retirement to star in and persuaded François Dupeyron to direct. It's a delicate thing, gossamer light, yet unforgettable. To tell its story is to break a butterfly upon a wheel. As in Manuel Pradal's 1997 Marie Baie des Anges, which also has a classic, mythic quality, its evocation of period is effortless. Both films exist in a Fifties or Sixties time that's all the more pungent because never broadcast -- except through irresistible period music. The little lessons M. Ibrahim teaches Moïse ("I know what is in my Koran") may seem clichéd. The stark and exotic direction the story takes later on in its 85 minutes may seem incongruous after the classic Frenchness of the opening scenes. But the movie conveys its mood and period with a deft simplicity no American director would be capable of. When a New Wave movie scene is shot in the street with Brigitte Bardot (reincarnated a bit incongruously, but vividly, by neo-diva Isabelle Adjani), it's a blissful moment of déja vu.

This film achieves its perfection by not seeming to try, with tossed off gestures: Ibrahim giving Momo cat food to pass off as a terrine de compagne for his dad with stale bread and cheap wine to dilute his Beaujolais so he won't complain about the cost; Momo smashing his piggy bank for the 35 francs to pay the prostitute; a group of men suddenly appearing around Ibrahim at a cafe table in Turkey.

Dad disappears after getting fired, leaving his savings on the table. Momo is undaunted. He plays soccer in the street with his schoolmates, learns to dance outside with the Jewish girl across the way, and continues his life lessons from Monsieur Ibrahim, who senses something wrong.

Ibrahim is grizzled, with bad teeth, but his outlook on life is beautiful. Momo has a singular grace; he seems to float across the screen, a delicate presence. He's pretty, he's cocky but vulnerable; he's light on his feet. When Ibrahim buys him a new pair of shoes, he twirls and flies through the air. The film itself skips along at first, then takes on a real-time slowness.

Ibrahim adopts Momo, buys a red sports car for cash, and drives through Greece and Albania to Turkey and his ancient home, where he leaves Momo by the road to go ahead, crashes the car, and dies in a house stacked full of kilims. These events turn the film toward the feel of a fable, something, perhaps, by some Moroccan novelist writing in singing, biblical French.

Earlier (but at this point in the book) Momo's mother comes looking for him, but he poses as a boy housepainter named Mohammed. He is already playing at being the "Arab" on the street, which is what he becomes, inheriting Ibrahim's store and all his wealth, choosing to live the rest of his life with a gentle irony by Ibrahim's motto, "Slowness [la lenteur] is the key to life."

There may be a little too much "lenteur," but many things make this movie sing: its lightness, the flow of the editing, the beauty of the photography, the charm of Sharif and Boulanger. There's a scene of whirling dervishes toward the end of the two guys' odyssey that's not like anything else you've seen in the movies. The camerawork is simple, handheld, timeless yet evocative of the period; the tones are fresh and saturated. There's an early shot of Momo in a red shirt standing in the window with a flowered curtain that's unforgettable. The color!

Thanks to Omar Sharif for getting this project made. There are moments in Monsieur Ibrahim, especially during the first half hour, that have that blessed rightness shared only by cinematic classics.

Likely to be one of the year's best.
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Monsieur Ibrahim: 8/10
movieguy102113 May 2004
Every once in a while, a movie comes along that's so simple in nature, so kind in its intentions that it can't be American. One of those select movies is Monsieur Ibrahim, a simplistic, realistic story that takes place in a lower-income area in Paris, where prostitutes roam the street, the streets are overcrowded so much that it's quicker to walk than drive, and two unlikely people meet to form an unlikely but lasting friendship.

Moses (Pierre Boulanger) is a sixteen year old boy who uses the previously mentioned prostitutes often, as his father is too busy making ends meet to really have an impact in Moses's life. When he's caught shoplifting in Ibrahim's (Omar Sharif) store, they soon bond and become friends. Ibrahim teaches Moses many things about life, the universe, and everything. Soon, Moses is basically forced to flee from his home, so the two of them go off on a road trip.

The one thing that sold me about Monsieur Ibrahim was the genuine relationship that seemed to be shared between the two characters. It wasn't anything that seems to be prevalent in cinema now, such as pedophilia or loneliness or the young person teaching life lessons to the older person. It's just like the relationship that many people have with their friends. There were a few times where I felt that it was a little too close for comfort, but other than that, it's just a simple friendship, nothing more.

Ibrahim always had something to say about one thing or another. I especially agreed with his views on money, although some of the dance sequences (and his mediations on dance) seemed a little too heavy (and untrue) for a movie like this. A movie like this switches successfully between comedy and drama (I especially love the piggy-bank analogy), and works. At the end, though, it was predictable, but the final turn worked well. Overall, Monsieur Ibrahim works very well overall, and is one of the most surprising movies I've seen so far this year.

My rating: 8/10

Rated R for some sexual content.
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religion of love and patience - explaining the plot to the evil-minded
btodorov5 April 2005
This is a reply to a couple of rather rash and inconsiderate comments above, done by people who apparently not only live in a world of hatred and mistrust but cannot even assess the obvious messages in an easy-going, unambiguous and outspoken story.

This movie has nothing to do with RELIGIOUS PROPAGANDA! Mr Ibrahim does NOT at any point try to proselytize Moise. Moise does NOT change his name, does NOT change religion and does NOT deny his roots. He was adopted for personal, and not confessional reasons.

The author of the novel upon which the movie is based is a French Jew by the same name as the main character. This quite easily explains why the boy had to be Jewish and not, let's say, Christian, for that matter. To see propaganda here is a proof of bad taste.

Momo was poor and an obviously bad student - he had no bright future which to sacrifice, that is why he settled himself with the grocery store, not because he was proselytized to adopt Arab ways.

Mr Ibrahim made it quite clear that his wisdom does not come from the Koran, but from life, he was a half-literate man, he led a secluded life, he attended no prayers, he did not speak of the Prophet or whoever. He quoted the Koran only on matters of love because this is what interested him. What Mr Ibrahim knew "was in his Koran", which apparently escaped the attention of the paranoic Muslim-haters above, were the two flowers (hey, they are part of the title of the movie!), a remembrance of his long-dead wife and love of his life.

This was a movie about how religious messages may be perceived in a spirit of love and harmony with the world and not in terms of self-seclusion, mutual suspicion and hatred. Yes, the visits to the churches and mosques were a little too naively funny to be convincing, but the message was easy to grasp - there is A LEVEL OF PERSONAL RECEPTION of religious messages, the "inner religion" about which young Moise was wondering what it meant, which is equally easy to approach by all adepts to all confessions.

I actually did not like the movie that much - the plot was partly lame and too fairy-tale-like for such a "show-life-as-it-is" kind of movie. But I felt obliged to write this comment in order to defend it against undeserved xenophobic slanders.
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Charming and subtle; a fabric woven from childhood memories.
Bob Pr.5 May 2004
"Monsieur Ibrahim"

I'd read some user comments and external reviews; the view of some that it's anti-Semitic almost made me skip it. However, unless you'd see the sympathetic portrayal of a Muslim man (Ibrahim/Sharif) as being anti-Semitic, it's unlikely you'll be bothered.

I don't know what the thrust of the book is, but movies rarely literally translate books; the book may suggest but the film moves in its own direction -- even, at times, contrarily.

This film reminded me a great deal of "Le mari de la coiffeuse/The Hair Dresser's Husband") directed and co-written by Patrice Leconte. That film also has a coming of age boy; getting haircuts, he's enthralled at having his head pressed against the bosom of his female barber. When his father questions his son about what he wishes to do when he's grown up and is displeased with the answer, he sends him to bed without his supper. The rest of the film (without any clear transition) deals with the boy's fantasy about someday marrying a lady barber and what their life would be like. It's a realistic portrayal of an adolescent boy's fantasy.

On the surface this film recounts the development of a mutually satisfying father-son type relationship that develops between a Turkish shopkeeper and a coming of age boy (MoMO/Boulanger) who is Jewish, by the way.

I say "on the surface" because most films try to tell a story in a way that we experience, see and live the story from a fly on the wall perspective.

Ahh-h, but not THIS film.

While you COULD view it that way, it's really far better understood if viewed from a different perspective.

Let's say you wandered in to the shop on this Parisian street one afternoon and heard the owner called "the Arab." You wonder why and also how he got into this particular trade. You start asking and he starts telling you the story of his life.

And that's what this movie tells us -- HIS version of HIS story as experienced through HIS eyes and ears growing up. So it's a realistic portrayal of that collection of childhood memories, assumptions, distortions, and causes.

As a child, do we see things the way we'd see them as an adult? Never, and so it is with this version. Everything is somewhat overdrawn, not quite a caricature but somewhat that way. All the streetwalkers are attractive, 21-31 years old, well dressed, and kind. None middle-aged, trashy, disturbed, or predatory. As we recount the story of our lives, we frequently expand the highs and lows and are liberal in delegating blame to those who disappoint us as well as credit to those who serve as heroes. And that's what this movie does.

Seen from this frame of reference, not all events make logical sense. So we never know for sure what happened to his father, or mother, or brother. We have his sometimes conflicting memories and versions, his suppositions that substitute for reality and which leave us wondering, "Golly, I wonder what really happened?"

Some things, of course, we'll never know. But it was fun finding out what we did. We had an interesting afternoon with the guy and he had a remarkable story to tell.

One of the best pictures of all time? No. But a thoroughly entertaining one most especially for those of us interested in family dynamics.
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Witty, melancholic, funny, full of love and life
Ihad5 August 2004
Seldom do I buy the book because I saw the movie. I did this time around and the book is even better than the movie albeit a bit too short, although throughout the book, you will always see Omar Sharif as Ibrahim.

I went to see this without knowing too much about it and from the very beginning it succeeded in drawing me right into Rue Bleu, it was as if I could almost smell it, feel it, touch it. Why? Because we care for the characters, we feel with them, through them. Omar Sharif is just stellar as Monsieur Ibrahim and carries the story with such an ease that it is a delight to watch.

One of the most powerful scenes for me was when Ibrahim confronts Momo about the stealing. There are more but I do not want to spoil it for you. "Ibrahim" is an emotional journey that you have to be willing to make. If you do you will be well rewarded.

Highly recommendable. 9/10
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A Wonderful and Sensitive Tale of Friendship
claudio_carvalho8 November 2005
In a street called Blue in a very poor neighborhood in Paris, Monsieur Ibrahim (Omar Shariff) is an old Muslin Turkish owner of a small market. He becomes friend of the teenager Jewish Moises, tenderly nicknamed Momo (Pierre Boulanger), who lives with his father in a small apartment on the other side of the street. Monsieur Ibrahim gives paternal love and teaches the knowledge of the Koran to the boy, receiving in return love and respect.

"Monsieur Ibrahim et les Fleurs du Coran" is a wonderful and sensitive tale of friendship. Omar Shariff gives one of his best performances in the role of an experienced and very good man that follows the teaching of his sacred book as his principle of life. Pierre Boulanger has also a great acting in the role of a needy teenager that finds the father he has never had in Monsieur Ibrahim. This delicate and sweet movie deserves to be watched many times, especially in those days that the viewer is down and sorrow, to enlighten his or her life. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Uma Amizade Sem Fronteiras" ("A Friendship Without Boundaries")
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Nice Cheerful Little French Movie
Paolo_UK26 October 2003
I went to see the movie after reading very good reviews during last Venice Film Festival. It was generally described as a fairytale about tolerance and friendship - ant that's what it is. A fairytale Paris quarter, with fairytale 'putaines', a wise middle aged shopkeeper, a smart teenager - everyday life goes on with a little happiness, a little tragedy, nice period music, simple happy philosophy. The second half of the movie goes on-the-road - in a fairytale Turkey, though definitely more realistic than Paris. Omar Sharif is good, and Pierre Boulanger is even better. This film is perfect to spend a cheerful evening and it is a little joyful lesson on religious tolerance and friendship.
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Great inspirational film!!
EAKY28 December 2004
This film is a wonderful example of how one can choose to be a victim or a hero in life! The abrupt start to the movie lets one see the boy's situation immediately. Using the grocery money given to him by his father, he goes searching for his first sexual experience among the prostitutes he observes from the window of his apartment. He is unsupervised, self-sufficient, curious and in desperate need of guidance. The shopkeeper who has been in this boy's life longer than the boy realizes, steps in to be the uplifting and guiding force for him. Initially, I felt a little troubled by the use of the two religions and putting one in a less-kind light. However, I realized that the viewpoint had nothing to do with the religion, rather with the person and how they chose to deal with their life. I will recommend this movie to many people!
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Memories do not always make perfect sense
drslop4 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
In reading some of the comments here, I wondered if I had seen the same movie.

We are being told a story that consists entirely of Momo's memories, impressions and, possibly, fantasies of when he was growing up.

So it seems strange that, for example, some reviewers complain here that there is not enough formal comparative religion or, God/Allah/Yahweh help us, that the film is antisemitic.

I also wondered why no-one (apparently) mentioned what Momo found inside M. Ibrahim's Koran (which surprised and intrigued me) and what that might mean.

The message boards didn't help much -- and there was more ranting about more or less nothing and "facts" that seems unlikely, to say the least.

Then I found the author's site and things started to make a lot more sense.

Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt tells us that Momo and Monsieur Ibrahim are two people who pass unnoticed through the world. Momo is an only child with no mother, and a father who barely deserves the name of 'father', too sunk in depression to take care of his son and bring him up, or teach him and hand on to him a taste for life and its principles. As for Monsieur Ibrahim, the only thing anyone asks of him is that he give them the correct change. Both man and boy change their lives as they get to know one another. Their encounter is a marvelous enrichment.

The author notes that there has been a lot of verbiage about the fact that the child is Jewish and the grocer Muslim -- "Rightly so. It was a deliberate move to create them like that. I set out to prove something and be provocative. What I wanted to prove was that in many places in the world (European capitals, ports, American cities, North African villages), people of different religions from different backgrounds live together in harmony. In Paris, Rue Bleue, the road where this story takes place and where I once lived and which definitely isn't blue, was largely inhabited by Jews with a few Christians and Muslims. They all shared not only the same street, but daily life, their joys, discontents and conversation. Friendships or mutual understanding developed among these people who came from just about everywhere, either geographically or spiritually. In this unpretentious quartier down from Montmartre, I felt I was living somewhere rich and burgeoning, where cultures met, took an interest in each other and joked about their differences."

Also, when Momo is handed Monsieur Ibrahim's old Koran, he finds what was in it -- dried blue flowers. The Koran is the text but it is also what Monsieur Ibrahim has placed in it -- his life, his way of reading, his interpretation. According to the author, "spirituality is not about repeating sentences parrot-fashion, but about grasping the meaning and understanding the concept and shades of meaning, the implications. True spirituality is only worthwhile when obedience and freedom are balanced".

There is a quite a bit more that you may find useful and interesting - search "Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt" if you want to explore further.
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A Drama of Perfect Excellence
dhaufrect5 February 2007
Francois Dupeyron has directed a masterpiece in cinematic excellence. Don't miss this very compelling drama. "Monsieur Ibrahim" has a performance by Omar Sharif that extends his dramatic displays far better than any since "Dr. Zhivago". His costar is Pierre Boulanger who plays Moses also called Momo in the film. Moses is only 16 and is being raised by his depressed Jewish father who reprimands Momo constantly. Momo or Moses becomes enamored by the proprietor of the neighborhood grocery across the street. He is also enamored by the young street walkers in the same location on Blue Road. The first encounter is with Anne Suarez who plays Sylvie the young, blond prostitute who initiates him into her world. His most interesting relationship is with Monsieur Ibrahim who persistently repeats the importance of the Koran in his own life. The eventual adoption of Momo, and their adventurous trip to Turkey is as beautiful a story as one can imagine. Be sure to add this one to your must see list.
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Monsiuer Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Quoran
dan_nut_2115 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I really liked the movie because first of all the plot was extremely realistic and I thought Omar Sharif was really good in the movie. The language was clear and easy to understand. I liked the whole plot of Jewish boy growing up,befriending old Moslim storekeeper and learning the most meaningful parts of the Quoran and applying them to life. It was a really wonderful movie and I wouldn't mind watching it again! I felt that the movie was trying to convey to us a silent message about how we should accept one another for who were are regardless of religion, caste, sex or color. That we should learn how to respect each other's religion, customs and lifestyles. I would have liked to see more music in the movie as well as a better idea of the location of the film. I think the actors, director and other members of the crew did a really good job on the entire production. In the future I would love to see more movies of this type coming out. So, keep up the good work!
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Simple and Warm
choden27 October 2004
Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran is a lovely film with great moments and triumphant performances of veteran Omar Sharif and young and promising Pierre Boulanger. In my opinion, what makes this film so important is its simplicity and sincerity. Most of the recent examples of modern French cinema are suffering from flamboyance and Monsieur Ibrahim is an exception. The film delightfully combines a new perspective to love, self identification, and empathy with magnificent acting skills and impressing cinematography. As a Buddhist myself, I've always found Safi ways interesting and this film presents a brief summary of this way of belief besides the touchy 'journey' theme. Religious motives are humanistic and the director carefully avoids any kind of religious propaganda. Instead, the audience watches the journeys of two men, from different ages and different cultural backgrounds. Ibrahim and Moses meet in Blue Rue which is a chaotic place for a 16 old boy to be. Both has a lot to teach each other and share. Abandoned and broken hearted Moses searches a way out through his teenage life full of growing pains, whereas Ibrahim, the immigrant who fell apart from his country searches a way out with the guidance of his beliefs and longings. Dialogues between Moses and Ibrahim are mind nourishing. Side characters are also memorable regarding Anne Suarez's performance as Sylvie and Lola Naymark's performance as Myriam that are truly remarkable.
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Very nice
=G=10 July 2004
"Monsieur Ibrahim" tells the tale of a Jewish boy coming of age in a poor Parisian neighborhood under the watchful eye of a kindly old Muslim who runs the local minimart (the title character, Sharif). A sort of easy going slice-of-life and coming-of-age flick in which a kindly old man shares his Islamic wisdom with a young boy who is mastering puberty in fine style as he takes on the local street walkers, learns than stealing is bad without losing a hand, and gets jilted by his kinda/sorta sweetheart, etc. Though the film isn't going to make cinema history, it does muster some warmth, poignancy, and charm with minimal subtitles and ample golden oldie pop music. Should make for a pleasant watch for those into foreign flix about people. (B)
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A must-see for people who are curious about Islam
brigitta-31 October 2006
Many people associate the religion with terrorism and violence. I used to think that followers of Islam focused too much on punishment, and not enough on tolerance and love. This movie truly shows the compassionate essence of Islam, and imparts the powerful message that religion itself is beautiful, and that it's usually a group of people that distorts its teachings.

I have never been more impressed with a movie that truly conveys tolerance, love and peace. In fact, I am buying a copy of the DVD to show my daughter when she is old enough to watch it. It is a beautiful work that will hopefully open the eyes of many followers of Islam and those of other religions.
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Atmopheric piece about a friendship... and trashcans
Flagrant-Baronessa29 September 2006
In the first scene of the film, 12-year-old Moïse walks down the hot backstreets of Paris on Rue Bleue, summer sizzling in the background, and loses his virginity to a pretty prostitute. The same-titled novel by François Dupeyron opens also on this bold note, setting the blunt no-nonsense tone and approach for the story. It explores the friendship between young Moïse and old Monsieur Ibrahim "the Arab on the corner" and unlike the majority of French cinema, it makes no pretense about it. It is merely a gentle look at how two people cultivate an unlikely father-and-son relationship.

Because Moïse is a Jew and Monsieur Ibrahim (Omar Shariff) is a Muslim, the film pins cultural contrasts and issues of tolerance somewhere in between them, juxtaposing their different personalities through the use of insightful dialogue (the observation about trashcans in different districts comes to mind). Yet for a film primarily about beliefs and outlooks, it never preaches or falls prey to moral messages, which is endlessly refreshing. It does, however, feature a lot of religious undertones throughout and by the time Ibrahim starts teaching Moïse about the Coran, you know the film is about to take a standpoint.

Omar Shariff allegedly came back from retirement to do this low-key film and his dedication to the content shines through in his wonderfully charismatic performance; he is a Morgan Freeman buddy type character and he manages this good-natured persona with effortless conviction. Pierre Boulanger who plays the young boy Moïse is certainly less convincing – not quite capturing the inherent loneliness or idealism of his character that explain why he seeks out prostitutes or befriends the "local Arab". Thankfully, Shariff more than makes up for the latter's lack of skill by being the propelling force behind their dynamic friendship.

Although Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran is largely a character-driven little film, its style and cinematography are elegantly expressed – clear-eyed and blunt at the same time as it manages to convey the dreamy steamy atmosphere of a hot summer day in Paris. Upon shifting to Middle Eastern setting, it features gorgeously striking dusty plains and mountains. A device for the dreamy tone is the consistent use of a particular 1960's song (the film takes place during the 1960's) which invests the whole film in an almost lyrical flow.

There is little wrong with the film and I greatly appreciate the direct approach to story (only a few introspective moments), but it is so low-key that it becomes forgettable. It does not claim to be important, and therefore isn't. It isn't a memorable product and it does not always manage touching, which renders it unremarkable.

7 out 10
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Nice movie - simple and moving!
lyrxsf23 January 2005
I like the simplicity of this movie. No expensive sets, no complicated dialog, no beautiful stars. The co-dependence of youth and old age is beautiful. The young boy learns how to smile and win. His estrangement from his father and his new found lust for sex have been effectively captured. The old man makes peace with his impending death. The movie has some pearls of wisdom. Its a never ending cycle - all rivers flow into the sea - into the immensity. Its not what you get, its what you give that makes you rich. And no one can take those riches away from you. I wish more reel had been spent on the car drive from France to Turkey, instead of just showing some clouds floating by.
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Monsieur Ibrahim and the "missing wisdom"
fady_gamal15 September 2004
It's a smooth tender story of a boy who tries to find the real meaning of life which he hadn't experienced yet. A Jewish boy, who didn't know any thing about his religion, with a miserable family life, all his aim from the beginning just to enjoy his a life as much as possible. He has been led to know Ibrahim and to recognize his special method in living, his concepts, his past and aims... I guess that Quran in this film is not meant to be "the Muslims holy book", but to be "the missing wisdom" that's must be found in one's life to live his time in a comfortable correct way, and that you must have a concept for your life style. As we see, the boy begins to sip this culture and he found the lost peace and love that he was badly needing them. After the death of Ibrahim, he vividly took his place in the store adopting his way of thinking and his life style. Omar Sharif (which has an Egyptian origin) was superb, also Pierre Boulanger was marvelous especially his way in expressing his inner feelings. The directing technique helps the feeling of 'involving' in the film atmosphere. One of the best movies at all.
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Simple story told many times over the years
bobbobwhite2 May 2005
This simple type of "buddy" film story has been seen too many times before to be totally new and different to me, thus it did not grab and hold my interest and heart the same way it might have done for a young person seeing the story for the first time. And, as shown in the film, there is always a "first time".

That being said, the film was pleasant enough if not overly impressive, as it was mostly a gentle little story about a lonely, older Muslim storekeeper, with a vast storehouse of wisdom and life experiences, befriending an essentially orphaned 16 year old Jewish(more or less incidentally) boy in 1960 Paris, and the small slices of daily life in the teeming semi-ghetto they shared as the old man's wisdom and life's experience was gradually transferred to the next generation, as it always must be done. As the old man himself said, "if you want to learn something, don't read a to someone".

Shoplifting, hooker sex, a suicide, failed first love, an adoption, a buddy road trip, and the end...there you have it. Not a lot of weight here, but enjoyable enough. And, it must be for most as this story is filmed again and again through the years and this one was nearly as good as any. The story worked well enough for me until the final buddy road trip, where it all ended a bit too abruptly for my taste. Too much had been shared to end it all so quickly.

Seeing an older man/young boy story like this one unfolding, I might suspect an underlying pedophilia reason for the man's intense interest in the boy. What a pleasure to see that not develop here, knowing all too well the weird and sick story development of many of today's films that is often so disgusting to mature viewers.

Many thanks to the filmmaker for not taking that edgy "modern" track, and for keeping the film's overall sense of sweetness and loving paternalism intact to the end.
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Coming of Age in Colorful Paris
noralee8 April 2004
"Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran" is a picaresque coming-of-age story that sets up a colorful situation and doesn't do much more than observe its quaintness to finally find a conclusion.

The whole movie is just the fact that a Jewish kid is left to his own devices by his depressed father in a colorful neighborhood of early 1960's Paris and he turns to a Turkish grocer for a paternal role model.

It manages to skirt the cloying sentiment of the similarly-themed recent Chinese film "Together (Han ni zai yiki)," especially through the boy's exposure to prostitutes and new rock 'n' roll, in an exuberant soundtrack.

We learn almost nothing about his mother, who seems incredibly easy to fool. Let alone whoever his landlord is.

Omar Sharif makes a wonderful old sage.
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roedyg18 April 2012
This movie is billed as a warm, feel good movie. The Omar Sharif character is kindly, but the lead character, Momo, a boy in his early teens, has the emotional rug suddenly and catastrophicallly yanked out from under him five times in the movie. He handles this with relative aplomb, but as a viewer I was left gasping.

You would think a movie about a single older man who befriends a young teen and takes him to the steam bath and gives him money would necessarily have sexual overtones, but it just never comes up. The movie is set in a more innocent time. There is plenty of sex in the movie, but all heterosexual.
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See this film- one of the year's best
lradloff8 May 2004
Starting off, I will say that I am a huge fan of Omar Sharif. And how could you not be? If you have seen him in Lawrence of Arabia to Funny Girl to Dr. Zhivago, you know what I mean. Monsieur Ibrahim is a truly touching, cliche free, story of the relationship between a young, distrusting, adolescent boy and the shopkeeper (Sharif) who knows more than he lets on. The boy, Moses (nicknamed Momo) is Jewish, and his father barely responds to him. His mother left when he was young, and he cannot live up to his older brother. Ibrahim is the Muslim grocer across the street whose quiet demeanor is excellently portrayed by Sharif. He understands more about Momo than Momo realizes, and they quickly become friends in the lack of a solid father figure for Momo. Ibrahim explains to Momo that there is more to life than is often seen, wisdom he has learned from the Koran. The movie is highlighted by the wonderful backdrop of France in the 60s, with American Rock 'n Roll playing in the background. It is reminiscent of the French New Wave, which was so good at making young people seem wiser than adults often gave them credit for. Do yourself a favor, and go see this wonderfully enjoyable gift of a movie. I have now seen it in the theaters twice. The film is in French, with subtitles, but it will not detract at all from the film.
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Exquisite Casting/Superbly Acted
grimshaw385 April 2004
This film can only be termed 'exquisite'. This alludes to the perfect casting, the choice location and the sublimely simple plot. The production values were excellent but there was one thing that raises the question, 'Why were some of the scenes SO dark?'. This may have been intentional but when the darkness reached the point that it became irritating, I had to raise the question. I wondered if it was a poor print or if the person responsible for the lighting found the challenge not up to his talents. If anyone can provide a clue, I would be most grateful. In spite of the 'darkness' of the film, I found the transformation of Moise from a sullen youth to an affable young man very subtle and the change was delightful. This is one of those movies that ended with the viewer wanting more!
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A Mystic Movie
CyrilF21 March 2004
I have been asking myself recently: In this Hollywood/Bollywood movie world filled with shallow stereotypes and money making divas, is it possible to make a truly spiritual movie that will introduce some very quiet and smiling vibration into the heart, a movie that will be a success both spiritually and commercially? François Dupeyron succeeds admirably in this task. Like any major work of art the movie is multi-faceted and can be interpreted on many levels: material as a coming-of-age story of waking sexuality and finding your place in the world, emotional as a tragedy of a family and a vivid description of psychological troubles we deal with in life or, finally, spirutual, with life being a mystic experience and the "adventure of consciousness and joy" as Indian mystic Sri Aurobindo put it.

The subtlety of the movie is that it is all based on nuances - we don't see openly raging emotions and all the psychological "play" is presented by some almost imperceptible but very powerful symbols of what is happening in the consciousness of the character -like the hat- the symbol of his old life - that Momo is helplessly kneading in his hands after he received bad news.

The movie is about what we are all trying to do in life, sometimes without even realizing it: psychological liberation. The process of it does not end with teenage years even though some people lose the ability or desire to analyze and work on their conditioning.

Monsieur Ibrahim as he says himself "knows his Koran", he shows the boy inner truth and inner path of freedom from our own inhibitions, mastery over one's nature and also shows by his very daily acts that in the world and life there are no sacred figure to be adored blindly or just because everyone does it, that the true religion lies where all religions in the world converge into some shining truth and all difference between Islam, Christianity or Hinduism disappers and the world becomes one, an "inner religion". One can call this approach Sufi, but it is only one of the names. Too bad in the United States the second part of the movie title (the Flowers of Koran) was missed out, but comment...

Excellent acting and casting. Mr. Sharif is superb in every respect. Mr. Boulanger deserves a special mention: very self confident at the same time not showy without teenage lust for fame and stardom one can expect at that age.

The movie can be called one of the "inner" movies that shows more the inner life than outer and through the eyes of the characters - during the journey to Turkey we see the country through the eyes of someone who lived there and there is a very comfortable feeling that we - just like Momo himself - found ourselves in the country we never were befire but that still is very comfortable and looks and sounds strangely familiar.

One of the most amazing episodes if the "whirling dervishes" scene but one has to see it and hear the voice over.

The very end of the movie showing the "circle of life" seems to be a bit too rationalistic and more like a mechanical repetition, instead of living and developing process of life and spiritual thruth. Some things are better left untold or shown indirectly. Besides, Momo because of his age and apparent lack of spiritual wisdom seems unnatural and "wearing someone else's clothes" in the final scene.

Overall, the movie is the kind that is able to tell a lot, only if you can see and listen. It is very real and sincere both in terms of emotional, psychological problems people deal with in life and thier solutions. At the same time the movie avoids religious moralizing and has great, very subtle sense of humor. Unfortunately I don't know enough about mystical side of Sufism to be able to enjoy and appreciate Sufi or Islam imagery even more.
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