25 May 2015 | ianstuartperkins
Thoroughly excellent. One of my very few 10 out of 10s.
Daru (Viggo Mortensen)is a second-generation Spanish-Algerian, teaching Arab children in a remote school during Algeria's struggle for independence. He is viewed as a Frenchman by the Arabs, and as an Arab by the French. He gets saddled with the task of taking Mohamed (Reda Kateb), a common, that is non-political, criminal to the authorities in Tinguit. The pair encounter Algerian freedom fighters, French soldiers, Arab tribesmen, stunning landscapes and more along the way. At each turn, Daru's values, culture, position and assumptions are thrown into question, and his bond with Mohamed deepens. Yet at all points this remains a movie with a compelling storyline and beautiful cinematography. There is never a hint of heavy-handed social commentary or political soap-boxing. As a thriller/adventure, or character drama, it would be excellent. But through Daru and Mohamed's developing relationship, the social and political fabric of Algeria is explored at the same time, with exquisite but down-to-earth sensitivity, from the points of view of two ordinary, honest, and in their different ways fundamentally good men.