26 November 2016 | evangw-47948
Two Films, Mashed Into One
The film starts out with background into the two different character arcs: the young Algerian growing up in the northern fringes of the Sahara, and the young Frenchman growing up in France. The movie fast forwards to the beginning of the Algerian War of Independence, which pits our two protagonists against one another.
About halfway through the film, the characters come together to get to know one another and to see the hypocrisy of both characters' sides—although being an Algerian director, it unsurprisingly focuses far more on the French hypocrisy than the Algerian independence fighters'.
After that point, the three characters who have become principle are suddenly wandering the Sahara lost. We are told that they are somewhere in Algeria, within a couple hundred km of the Moroccan border, and from their border crossing it would be not too far from Berkane. Somehow, they end up getting to Reggane a good 1000 km to the south—on a single tank of jeep fuel and a few days walking. In the meanwhile, these super marathon sprinters get to know one another and understand the other's narrative. Until it turns out at the very end that no, they actually don't, and they're all stubborn and unlikable. Then, the movie suddenly ends. The director and script writer clearly had no idea how to tie up the story, so they suddenly teleported the main characters a few hundred kilometers and deus ex machina'd an ending.
Unfortunate because the cinematography is great and the idea is underexplored for the French-Algerian War (although you can find no shortage of other films with similar motifs; Clint Eastwood's two Iwo Jima movies come to mind).
If you want to watch an Algerian film, go for it, it's not a bad film by any means, but consider turning it off as soon as the main French character goes off with the support French character and the main Algerian character into the jeep. Just quit the movie then and imagine your own ending. It'll be better than where the film actually goes.