- 2h 40min
Casablanca. Late afternoon. Ney, a young man in his early 20's, heads toward his victim's apartment in order to get his revenge. This act will lead to the collision of three different lives.... Read allCasablanca. Late afternoon. Ney, a young man in his early 20's, heads toward his victim's apartment in order to get his revenge. This act will lead to the collision of three different lives. Ney is a young Moroccan man who lives with his blind mother and his little sister. Being ... Read allCasablanca. Late afternoon. Ney, a young man in his early 20's, heads toward his victim's apartment in order to get his revenge. This act will lead to the collision of three different lives. Ney is a young Moroccan man who lives with his blind mother and his little sister. Being the only man at home, Ney feels responsible for his family and decides to find an honest j... Read all
The Nourys seem to have wanted to throw in everything but the kitchen sink: cocky young men, blind peasant women, drunken sages, innocent schoolchildren, ex-cons, gangsters, break dancers, and an alcoholic American expatriate woman from San Francisco whose soul-bearing and whining phone calls to her mother back home are, to an American audience, obtrusive and somewhat embarrassing. Even she seems a real Casablanca resident, though: how else could she be American yet obviously understand Moroccan Arabic and be fluent in French?
In the first segment and the last (of three, all set in Casablanca) it feels as if the Nourys may be influenced more by cinema than by their own experience, which is fine. We get a close look at several characters in each of the three parts. In the first segment and the last (of three, all set in Casablanca), with their gangsterish content, it feels as if the Nourys may be influenced more by cinema than by their own experience, which is fine. We get a close look at several characters in each of the three parts. The most fully realized people -- even if their stories are left hanging -- are the expatriate lady of the middle segment and a fifty-year-old man just released from prison who dominates the final segment.
As the film opens, Ney Rabie Katy), a young man whose pals all wear muscle shirts, long hair in a pigtail, and turned-around baseball caps, reports to a slick character with a big swimming pool and a bar-lined SUV and thereby turns to crime to support his blind mother (Latifah Ahrare) and a young sister, Maria (Samia Berrada), who's well behaved and bright in school. This opening sequence is the most irritating of the three, because none of the action is clear and the hand-held camera makes you seasick. Despite his being closest in age to the filmmakers, Ney seems the least realized of the main characters. His moments at home with his blind mother are hard to reconcile with the way he spends his time otherwise.
A feud Ney gets into with a gangster named Faisal (Farid Regragui) leads to his killing a father and putting the mother in a coma, and the little son Salim (Taha Ghrabi) and the mother are taken in by the American lady, Lisa (Aimee Meditz), who's grumpy and put-upon at first and then falls in love with the little boy and is devastated when he's taken away with the comatose mother by a Moroccan relative. This segment anchors the whole, because it's about the stuff of everyday life more than the crime stories that bookend it. It shows the cameraman can keep his hand steady when he wants to, and the woman is interesting, even if her emotional arc seems pushed and weepy. She seems a real person; it's a pity she's not a better actress. Smail (Hakim Noury, the directors' father), the quiet, self-contained, elegant released prisoner, is the film's most interesting figure. He's mysterious, but perhaps because of the filmmakers' connection with him, they make us feel close to him. He's been incarcerated for fifteen years and connects with his best friend -- who turns out to be the Amercan lady's estranged husband -- and his girlfriend before preparing a règlement de comptes with a pal who betrayed him. This doesn't quite feel like a conclusion so much as like a story that could have been more fully developed. Paulo Ares' cinematography has its moments, but the jiggling in the Ney scenes simply seems clumsy. The editors' inter-cutting of tiny slices of earlier and later moments into scenes is more distracting than illuminating. You have to learn to walk before you can dance. The Nourys and Ares seem to have been far too much in love with every shot, though given the ambitious schemework, it's hardly surprising the film is over-long (160 minutes). Apart these criticisms, there is a lot of interesting stuff here, and the plotting is pretty ingenious, with its regular structures and its recurrent focus on mothers and sons. And despite the obvious flaws, it's somewhat exhilarating to see an almost indigenous movie-making effort of such complexity coming out of Morocco. Probably this isn't destined to be anything but a festival film, but one hopes it will lead to more from this country and these young men. The film was produced by the directors' mother Pilar Cazorla.
- Chris Knipp
- Apr 28, 2007