Reda, summoned to accompany his father on a pilgrimage to Mecca, complies reluctantly - as he preparing for his baccalaureat and, even more important, has a secret love relationship. The trip across Europe in a broken-down car is also the departure of his father: upon arrival in Mecca, both Reda and his father are not the characters they were at the start of the movie. Avoiding the hackneyed theme of the return to the homeland, the film uses the departure to renew a connection between two generation.Written by
The premise for this movie is simple and so is the script: an elderly Muslim gets his teenage son to drive him in his similarly elderly station wagon from France to the haj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, so that he can fulfill his holy Muslim obligation before he dies. The father is clearly devoutly religious, but the son is unimpressed; he accepts out of obligation to his father rather than to religion, he'd rather be with his (non-Muslim) girlfriend. The father is stubborn in a lot of things which the son doesn't understand and the petulance between them is the device that maintains the drama, although it is often rather irksome. However, like any good road movie there are oddball characters encountered along the way; for example a woman on a backroad in Croatia who upon being asked for directions to Belgrade simply gets in the backseat and points with her hand uttering one word which they assume to be a place but can't find it on the map. In Bulgaria another man they ask directions of confirms he can speak French but then provides an extensive commentary in Bulgarian. There is also occasional humor - in one country the son tires of eating egg sandwiches and wants meat - they are given a goat, but unfortunately (perhaps fortunately for the viewer) it runs away before the father can perform the Muslim slaughterman ritual. They eventually make it to Mecca - the Muslim equivalent of the Vatican but on a much grander scale. For westerners it is all bizarre but fascinating. The movie isn't sophisticated but is charming in its own way, a kind of National Geographic with soul.
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