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View All Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi) News
All Critics (41)
| Top Critics (15)
| Fresh (31)
| Rotten (10)
| DVD (1)
It's a big, bold film defined by a reserved passion, a stately style and strong performances from its three leads.
It's a ham-handed "issue" movie that preaches to the converted, but the mid-century threads look cool and those Coppola moments remain effective all these years later.
Think The Godfather II as told through France vs. Algeria tensions, and you have the essence of Rachid Bouchareb's vivid combo crime saga, action movie and historical drama.
"Outside the Law" is an epic film about Algeria's fight for liberation from France, with three outstanding performances and a grand, sweeping feel.
A gripping French-Algerian coproduction that makes Algeria's epic struggle for independence from France look like a gangster movie.
The movie is impressively made but finally feels rote and, at 138 minutes, outstays its welcome.
Ultimately, the common criminal has as much in common with the career soldier and the idealistic revolutionary . . . .
Outside The Law is a fairly run of the mill slice of historical action/crime-drama, but ironically one that has just enough story to sustain your attention, but all too little historical fact to truly deserve your it to begin with.
Part Western, part Godfather and with topical reflections of French colonialism meeting contemporary struggles for freedom in north Africa head-on, this is a thought-provoking film despite its over-ambitious nature.
Bouchareb makes subtle points here about the damaging legacy of colonial rule.
Exciting but one-sided, Bouchareb's film is a Melville-lite study of honour among dangerous men.
A little on the long side, it nonetheless keeps us involved in the deadly cat-and-mouse games between the Algerian freedom fighters and increasingly desperate police, and the performances from the reliable trio of lead actors are excellent.
"Outside the Law" starts on May 8,1945 as France celebrates its victory in World War II by brutally repressing a peaceful independence march in Algeria. This interrupts the boxing match promoted by Said(Jamel Debbouze) while his brother Abdelkader(Sami Bouajila) somehow barely escapes with his life with an Algerian flag before being arrested and sent to prison in France. Messaoud(Roschdy Zem), another brother, ends up in the French army where he gets to be lectured by the Vietnamese in a prison of war camp on the right way to overthrow his colonial masters. Their mother(Chafia Boudraa) is not so much interested in any of that, as she is in possible grandchildren.
In depicting the violent struggle for Algerian independence, "Outside the Law" is as subtle as an explosion. Its main problem is in never going deeper than the historical record in sounding like a doctrinaire debating society at times when instead it should have been more interested in developing the various characters, especially as how they might have been affected by the casual racism of the era. Admittedly, the movie does improve as it goes on, and there is a nice subplot involving Abdelkader. Otherwise, what you basically have here is an old fashioned gangster flick with the FLN vs. MNA vs. the French authorities. This could not have been the intent of the filmmakers, could it? I mean I know the Algerian independence movement was baptized in blood but nobody asked if there could have been a better way?
Director Rachid Bouchareb follows up his 2006 Academy Award nominated "Days of Glory," with yet another masterwork of cinema. I think this is an even better film than "Days of Glory" aswell.
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