Free Men (2012)
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Critic Reviews for Free Men
Ferroukhi fails to communicate much of the fear and paranoia of living in an occupied city.
The film benefits greatly from Rahim's subtle, effective performance; and it's inevitably heartening to see Jewish and Muslim Algerians identify themselves in national, not ethnic or religious, terms, while fighting a common enemy.
Rahim has the eyes of the young Mandy Patinkin. If only he had some of the wildness.
Free Men offers a pleasing historical escape via a story of everyone setting aside religious, colonial, and ethnic divides to unite against the Nazis.
Audience Reviews for Free Men
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.
Really well done, and an interesting look at Paris under the Nazi heel, especially as the terror strikes Parisian Jews. I found the Islamic music trying, others may not, but the film is a low-key A list French production. Great actors. Great retelling of history.
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