6.8/10
70
2 user 5 critic

La maison jaune (2007)

from the Bari Balafon Film Festival 2008 program, director, Koblan Bonaventura Amissah: "The family of Mouloud, a peasant in the Algerian mountains, is overwhelmed by a tragic loss: their ... See full summary »

Director:

Amor Hakkar
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5 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Aya Hamdi Aya Hamdi ... Alya
Amor Hakkar ... Mouloud
Tounes Ait Ali Tounes Ait Ali ... Fatima
Bissa-Ratiba Ghomrassi Bissa-Ratiba Ghomrassi ... Bissa
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Storyline

from the Bari Balafon Film Festival 2008 program, director, Koblan Bonaventura Amissah: "The family of Mouloud, a peasant in the Algerian mountains, is overwhelmed by a tragic loss: their soldier son has been killed in an ambush. With stubborn patience, Mouloud sets off on a motor tricycle to Algiers to get his son's body. The journey is difficult and painful through the harsh landscape of the mountains and a thousand bureaucratic and administrative setbacks. When he returns home, the battle is not over. Mouloud now has to fight the sadness and give new meaning to his life and that of his wife, who has been cloistered in profound silence by her sorrow." Written by Glenn Herrick

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Plot Keywords:

color in title | See All (1) »

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

France | Algeria

Language:

Arabic

Release Date:

5 March 2008 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The Yellow House See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Sarah Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Underscoring goodness in humankind through cinema
5 January 2009 | by JuguAbrahamSee all my reviews

Directed, written, acted (playing the lead role of Mouloud) and co-edited by Amor Hakkar, The yellow house will win hearts anywhere. It is humanistic, deceptively simple and uplifting. Having seen the French/Arabic/Berber language film, the viewer will leave with one thought--there is goodness in all of us, whether Algerian or a citizen of any other nation. It is rare to encounter such movies when violence, evil, and bitterness pervade most films being made these days. Some viewers tend to disparage "feel-good" films because they tend to be escapist, but here is an example where realism rarely goes out of focus.

This Algerian film is apparently the second feature film of the director, who studied in France. The story/screenplay written by Hakkar is simple: a poor Algerian agrarian family, who survives by growing and selling potatoes and vegetables, deals with grief following the untimely death of the eldest son in an accident. The filming appears simple too: no flashy editing distracts the viewer, camera angles are unobtrusive, and the viewer's sensibilities are soothed by the delightful strains of evocative oudh (a string instrument) music. The oudh player Faycal Salhi, who provided the music for the film, was present at the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) 2008 to collect, on behalf of the Algerian director, the deserving Special Jury Award. The movie had earlier won the top award at the Valencia film festival, the best actor award at the Osian (New Delhi) festival, three awards at the Locarno festival, the Special Jury Prize at the Carthage festival, among other honors it received elsewhere.

Sociologically, the film criticizes the lack of electricity in some villages of the oil rich country and yet commends the quick remedial, intervention when lapses are brought to notice of the government. The film is not about economic injustice or government apathy; even though these real issues are present in the backdrop. In the forefront of this wonderful film are issues that are more universal: strong family bonds between husband and wife, between father and children, dead and alive.

The first half of the film deals with the impact of untimely death of the farmer's eldest son in an accident while serving in the police force and the father's journey to Batna to identify and collect the mortal remains. The second half deals with the husband's quixotic but dogged plan to bring the shattered life of his wife to normalcy with the help of a video recording made by his son before his death.

The film underlines everything that is positive about the Muslim world in a charming way that is not didactic. Policemen, who have never met the farmer before, help the man by providing him with a hazard light as he travels in the night on a three-wheeled farm tractor without headlights to bring his son's body home. Taxi drivers go out of the way to help him locate addresses in the city. An official at the morgue, instead of taking the farmer to task for "stealing" his son's body circumventing official procedures, takes the trouble to catch up with him on the highway and hands him the signed legal papers approving the release of the dead body. A pharmacist is asked by the farmer for some medicine to cure his wife's depression from the tragedy, and the well-meaning pharmacist, who has heard of a cure (painting the walls of his house yellow) shares this information with the farmer.

Ordinary individuals, who could easily have been indifferent to a poor man, go out of the way to lend a helping hand to man coping with grief. Would such good deeds happen in real life, one could well ask. My answer would be that human bonding when we recognize another person's grief or loss is quite extraordinary. What is remarkable about this film is the contribution of one man Omar Hakkar who acts, directs and edits a delightful film that does not criticize at any point what is wrong in society and yet presents a realistic canvas of Berbers in Algeria. The farmer might appear simple and poorly educated, but the film is intelligently crafted killing several birds with one stone. There is criticism of the economic disparity in the film but it is latent. The film also silently underlines the important supportive roles of young girls in a Muslim family, rarely underlined in Arab films.

Hakkar's film is one of the finest films to emerge from North Africa in recent years almost comparable to Mohamed Asli's lovely Moroccan film In Casablanca, angels don't fly, also on the Berber community made in 2004. Hakkar has not just proved his mettle as a director but also as an interesting screenplay writer, who is capable of merging tragedy with low-key visual humor that never goes overboard. Hakkar's dignified performance in the main role seems contagious—every other character in the film rises above petty minds to lend him a helping hand. The film's screenplay underlines the need for all of us to tackle grief with courage and adopt a positive outlook at life's continuity in all weathers. It is a film that reiterates that one can attain the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow through dogged persistence in life, while being gentle and considerate to others.


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