In occupied France, Younes(Tahar Rahim) works in the black market. During an immigration dragnet, he is arrested while his cousin Ali(Farid Larbi) escapes. Younes is given a choice, either cooperate with the authorities and spy for them or be deported. He chooses to stay and is assigned to infiltrate the mosque presided by Ben Ghabrit(Michael Lonsdale). It is there that Younes encounters Salim(Mahmoud Shalaby), a young singer, using a dabrouka as a calling card.
"Free Men" has a few things going for it, like its unique angle on occupied France, just as nationalism for North Africa was starting to kick into gear with immigrants being pulled in two separate directions at once. But even with a milieu as neat as this one, you need a decent story which is missing here. Plus, the lead character is more than a little lacking.(Whether this is because Younes is only a composite character and Salim and Ben Ghabrit were real people is up for debate.) But then somebody should have told Michael Lonsdale, possibly miscast as he is, that this wasn't his movie, as he steals it simply through the careful application of quiet dignity.