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Powerful tale of the evolution of young boys into suicide bombing terrorists
Based on the real multiple bombings that took place on May 16, 2003 in Casablanca, Morocco, the film follows its main characters over a period of 10 years, as they transition from boys to young men.
There's a lot that's powerful here, and there is much that has the ring of truth in this journey into darkness. But compared to (for example), Hany Abu-Assad's more complex and richer 'Paradise Now' there's also something a bit schematic. The reasons behind the transformation of these once sweet young men into bombers– poverty, hopelessness, an overly macho culture – are certainly true, but they're also familiar. It doesn't quite feel like we're digging deeper into their souls.
I also wish the villains of the piece, both Jihadist and 'civilian' were a little less on-the-nose, a little less mustache twirling. In terms of those men who are recruiting the boys, I missed the charisma that I assume must be part of the recruitment process.
Much like Ayouch's earlier 'Ali Zoaua: Price of the Streets', also about middle -eastern street kids, while the film is intelligent and interesting, it feels like it should be even more emotionally devastating than it ultimately is. That said, it's good enough that I could imagine re-visiting it, and seeing if it pulls me in even deeper on a second viewing.
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