3 user 6 critic

In Casablanca, Angels Don't Fly (2004)

Al malaika la tuhaliq fi al-dar albayda (original title)
The life and times of a Casablanca cafe waiter.


Mohamed Asli


Mohamed Asli, Siham Douguena (script)
3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Abdessamed Miftah El Kheir Abdessamed Miftah El Kheir ... Ismail
Abderrazak El Badaoui Abderrazak El Badaoui ... Restaurant Owner
Rachid El Hazmir Rachid El Hazmir ... Said
Leila El Hayani Leila El Hayani ... Aicha
Abelaziz Essghyr Abelaziz Essghyr ... Ottman
Ali Achtouk Ali Achtouk ... Hmed
Naima Bouhmala Naima Bouhmala ... Ottman's Mother
Fatima El Hadi Fatima El Hadi ... Said's Mother
Jamal Bouhaddioui Jamal Bouhaddioui ... Jamal.
Mostapha Sabhi Mostapha Sabhi ... Ami Ottman
Mohamed Tata Mohamed Tata ... Story-teller
Said Boukdir Said Boukdir ... Muezzin
Anass Benabbad Anass Benabbad ... Young Ottman
Brahim Marzaq Brahim Marzaq ... Taxi Driver
Hamid El Houadri Hamid El Houadri ... Salem


Three men from a failing Berber village in the Atlas Mountains find work in a Casablanca restaurant. Head Waiter Said dutifully sends money back to wife Aicha who is raising their son and new baby. Kitchen worker Ottman remembers riding his horse as a child with the Berber leaders. He sends back bread scraps to keep his horse from being slaughtered for meat. Waiter Ismail longs for a pair of black boots that costs 3 months' wages. The dream of each man turns sour as the film moves from light drama to disallusionment, humiliation and tragedy. Written by John Park, Editor, FringeReport.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

love | despair | See All (2) »


Broken city dreams


Comedy | Drama




Italy | Morocco


Arabic | Berber languages

Release Date:

10 June 2005 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

In Casablanca, Angels Don't Fly See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Dagham Film, Gam Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital


See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Man at roadside: Afraid of the police and not of God?
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User Reviews

One of the finest Arab films evoking neo-realist images--a superb debut
8 December 2004 | by JuguAbrahamSee all my reviews

This is a rare gem. A deceptively simple film with uncharacteristically fine production values in editing, direction and performances. It evokes memories of de Sica's "Bicycle Thief," Kurosawa's "Dersu Uzala," Tavianni brothers "Padre Padrone" and Ermanno Olmi's "The Tree of Wooden Clogs." I stumbled on this considerably unsung film at the on-going Dubai international film festival.

At a simplistic level, the film is about the travails of urban migration. Three pipe-dreams of three workers in a busy Casablanca restaurant interweave the screenplay--one dreams of a better, richer family life, one dreams of caring for his steed, and one dreams of wearing an expensive pair of shoes.

But Moroccan director Mohamed Asli presents a debut effort that would put weather-beaten directors to shame. He presents tragi-comedy that comes alive with brilliant sound editing (Raimodo Aeillo and Mauro Lazaro) as he cuts from a suicidal jump in a dream to a neighing, prancing horse; inventive camera-work (director Asli and cameraman Roberto Meddi) utilizing a camera placed on a roof of a bus weaving through Casablanca traffic behind a sack of bread destined as feed for a horse miles away in quick-motion; evocative performances by non-professional actors who slide through heavy road traffic like ballet dancers with a tray full of beverages and snacks; and the quixotic efforts of a simple man to keep his new pair of shoes clean and safe.

These are not unreal dreams. Every urban migrant has similar dreams. But Asli presents a canvas that goes beyond the obvious. Through his characters he rattles the viewer as he contrasts humanism (a stranger's helping hand to someone in shock) against capitalist insensitivity (a restaurant owner who only looks at ways to prosper disregarding the lives of his workers). There is an equally disturbing question: are you more afraid of Allah (God) or of the police? The film presents the joy of birth and pathos of death--the final sequence of dead corpse being hauled against a barren, cold, lonely landscape presents a fascinating counter-point to the opening scene of a pregnant woman surrounded by people climbing stairs to talk to her husband through an intermediary. In life and in death, things remain unattainable (ability to talk to her husband versus a dream to provide a better life for the family).

The film is set in Morocco--the film could have been set anywhere. The aura is Muslim and Arab--but the sensibility is universal. There is tragedy, there is comedy. That is the real stuff of life. Thank you, Mr Asli. I look forward to even better films from you and sincerely hope more people see and enjoy this work.

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