Thursday, March 22, 2007

Brilliantly Red-Skinned Fruit

In French, Arabic, and Spanish with English Subtitles Directed by Tony Gatlif Starring Romain Duris, Lubna Azabal Released in 2004

To better understand what sort of people Zano and Naima are, director Tony Gatlif insists on treating the viewers like participants. In one particularly memorable scene of about 20 minutes, the female lead is exorcised Algerian-style, building slowly to a sort of trance. What makes this scene extraordinary is, the director films it in real time, leaving the viewer to feel as if they’d just participated. Exils is a spiritual journey, where the eccentric couple encounter a world that seems like a Gatlif fantasy, equipped with long musical sequences as, once again, we become witnesses to impromptu gatherings of local musicians jamming to passionate flamenco or raw Algerian trance, and playful sexual encounters among backdrops such as trees with lush green leaves and brilliantly red-skinned fruit. Although Exils lacks a plot, the film is an audio and visual pleasure that I highly recommend.

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