DVD Hors la loi

DVD Hors la loi
DVD Hors la loi
Run time: 138 min
Rating: 6.6
Genres: Crime | Drama | War
Director: Rachid Bouchareb
Writers: Rachid Bouchareb
Stars: Jamel Debbouze, Roschdy Zem, Sami Bouajila
Storyline
After losing their family home in Algeria, three brothers and their mother are scattered across the globe. Messaoud joins the French army fighting in Indochina; Abdelkader becomes a leader of the Algerian independence movement in France and Saïd moves to Paris to make his fortune in the shady clubs and boxing halls of Pigalle. Gradually, their interconnecting destinies reunite them in the French capital, where freedom is a battle to be fought and won. Written by Silenzio
Plot Keywords: boxing, algeria, uniform, army vs civilians, french military
Details:
Country: France, Algeria, Belgium, Tunisia, Italy
Release Date: 6 May 2011 (UK)
Box Office
Budget: €20,000,000 (estimated)

4 Comments

  1. Writer Director Rachid Bouchareb's first view of the Algerian involvement in France's participation in World War II as the extraordinary DAYS OF GLORY from 2006. Now he continues his story of the bravery of the Algerians in OUTSIDE THE LAW (HORS-LA-LOI) using many of the same actors but placed in different roles. This is a fast-paced film that covers a lot of territory and time and gives an insider's view of how the Algerian soldiers and the Algerian people struggled post WW II to gain freedom from French colonization. On many levels the films works well: on the level of character development and audience empathy it stumbles – but doesn't fall.

    The film opens in 1925 when a family in Algeria faces the French representative who informs a family that the government is taking their ancestral land and home: Le père (Ahmed Benaissa), La mère (Chafia Boudraa) and their three sons Saïd, Messaoud and Abdelkader. Understandably devastated they pack their scant belongings and leave. Jump to 1945 and the massacre of Setif, an event that forces the family to disperse: La mère with Saïd (Jamel Debbouze) move to a shantytown for Algerian refugees outside Paris and Saïd becomes involved with organized crime in Pigalle to support his mother (he begins as a pimp, then as a Cabaret owner, and moves into more dangerous activities such as fixed boxing matches, etc). Messaoud (Roschdy Zem) has become a soldier with the French army in the fruitless war in Indochina (Vietnam) and observes as the French retreat that external colonization of a country will always fail because of the inherent patriotism of the indigent people. Abdelkader (Sami Bouajila), because of this participation in the resistance during the Setif Massacre, has been imprisoned in France where he gains insight from his fellow Algerians that they must revolt and fight to regain independence for Algeria. Once reunited Abdelkadan becomes the driving force behind the Algerian's FLN movement. He is the local figurehead and brains, while his brother Messaoud acts as the muscle and bodyguard. Brother Said continues his pursuit of money through shady night clubs and as a boxing promoter, but he is never far from his brothers' sides – even if he isn't quite as politically motivated. The film jumps to the 1950s and the early 1960s following the development of the Algerian resistance as it becomes a murderous group, assassinating the French officials and police, engaging in fierce gun battles, all the while under the malicious eye of their nemesis Colonel Faivre (Bernard Blancan). As deaths in the family occur the family dwindles but always with the promise to each other that Algeria will gain its independence, a fact the is revealed through historic film footage from 1962.

    The film is a tense reenactment of battles and crime scenes, but there is a problem with the script in detailing the personalities of each of the characters beyond their devotion to Algerian independence. Even a marriage and the birth of a son and the death of the mother fail to substantially affect the three brothers beyond the expected reactions. The actors are all excellent but without the benefit of a script that allows them to offer us unique and meaningful individuals they become tropes. As a viewer remembering the brilliance of Days of Glory this film is strangely uninvolving. There is a sense that Rachid Bouchareb feared condemnation by either the Algerians or the French. Much can be said in favor of that stance: no one is 'right' or 'wrong' in war. But at movie's end we are left oddly outside the emotional aspect of the film that was the key to the success of Days of Glory. In the end this is a very well made and powerful film that answers many questions about the French Algerian conflict few of us understand.

    Grady Harp

  2. The standalone sequel to Rachid Bouchareb's 2006 film Days of Glory,Hors-la-loi starts at a time on which the previous movie ended. The Algerian-African soldiers, who fought for France against the Nazi Germany in the previous movie, this time, fight against the imperial France for Algeria's independence. The fact that some actors have acted in both movies create a sense of interconnection, indeed.

    Against the backdrop of patriotic struggles of three Algerian brothers, the movie questions both the legacy of modern Western Europe and the hard-line policies of Algerian front of national liberation. From the three brothers, Abdelkader (Sami Bouajila) does a long stint in jail because of his opinions. Messaoud ( Roschdy Zem) goes on serving France as a soldier in the revolt against French rule known as the First Indochina War. He gets impressed by the determined struggle of the local Vietnamese. Saïd (Jamel Debbouze) feels obliged to leave his hometown Setif after the known massacre. He just takes his mom and leaves for France. Though he is not as politically motivated as the other two brothers he always takes his place beside his brothers. Abd-el-Kader, along with the help of Massoud, awakens a new soul of liberation movement in places like Renault workshops and local pubs. Said runs a cabaret and organizes box matches in a place where he started off as a pimp. Using Algerians in false ID and disguise, the liberation movement executes every important French police officer or soldier. The French decide to fight 'terrorism' with its own weapons so they create a secret organization which takes the appearance of a criminal organization and they indulge in 'terrorism' too.

    In some ways, Bouchareb's movie reminded me of "La battaglia di Algeri " but Bouchareb should take credits for his guts. He never tries to present the viewer a rosy picture of the revolution. The liberation movement does not recognize love or brotherhood on the grounds that there should be no personal passion and gain. Just because the cause is just, the party takes away every individual value out the lives of its members. That's why Massoud never sees his son grow up properly and Abdelkader threatens to kill his brother if he lets his boxer fight for France. Besides,the movie does not ignore the clash between two separate Algerian nationalist movements, MNA and FLN. Some right-wing French people criticize the movie because of its so called 'anachronisms' and some others call it even 'anti-French' but Bouchareb does not really anathematize the French. In the movie we see communist French activists who actually help the struggle of Algerians. Bouhareb may have forgotten that cinema is, on some levels, a light entertainment. He may not have made the perfect movie which is about conveying the whole truth, but at least he tried to do portray a part of his country's immediate past. Outside the Law is not an anti-French movie but it is surely an anti-colonial movie which deserves critical acclaim.

  3. Greetings again from the darkness. I am certainly not qualified to offer an expert opinion as to the historical accuracy of the film, but I can say that it provides a seemingly realistic view of the horrible situation and struggles endured by the Algerians during their fight for independence from France during WWII.

    The story is a sequential sequel to director Rachid Bouchareb's film "Paths of Glory" and centers around 3 brothers who are separated during the horrible massacre at Setif. Messaoud (Roschdy Zem who was the best thing about "The Girl from Monaco") goes off to fight as a soldier for France; Said (Jamel Debbouze) takes his mother and moves to Shantytown in France and becomes quite the street hustler; while Abdelkadan (Sami Bouajila) is imprisoned and absorbs all that he sees.

    Each of the brothers endures much hardship until circumstances serve to reunite them in Shantytown and the real mission begins. Abdelkadan becomes the driving force behind the Algerian's FLN movement. He is the local figurehead and brains, while his brother Messaoud acts as the muscle and bodyguard. Brother Said continues his pursuit of money through shady night clubs and as a boxing promoter, but he is never far from his brothers' sides – even if he isn't quite as politically motivated.

    I found all three brothers interesting in their own right, but the film is just so downbeat as it tells this story, that I just never felt engaged. That's not to say the mission of the Algerian people during these two decade period isn't amazing, because it certainly is. It's just this film doesn't really offer much in the form of telling the story. This one is nominated by the Academy for Best Foreign Film, so obviously many thought better of it than I.

  4. Outside the Law details a period in French-Algerian history from the end of the Second World War to Algerian independence. It follows three Algerian brothers who move to France and take completely different paths. One of them joins the French army, another becomes a political radical, while the third embarks of a life of crime. All of them are eventually brought together in the unified cause of Algerian independence and equal rights. It begins and ends with notorious bloody events.

    Much seems to have been made about the liberties that this film has taken with the facts surrounding certain key historical events. I am not in any position to say if this is a justified complaint or not, as I simply do not know. However, I think it's only fair to say that the plot-line follows a historically accurate path; whether or not the emphasis of events is skewered or not I can't say but, if so, it would not be the first time in cinema history that a film exaggerates for dramatic effect. Whatever the case, it's certainly a period in history that hasn't been depicted in films very often from what I can gather.

    While I did enjoy the film, I didn't think it was nearly as good as Rachid Bouchareb's earlier film Days of Glory. That latter film dealt with a similar theme – the difficulties French Algerians have experienced in their adopted land. I felt that Outside the Law didn't share that movie's sympathetic characters or its dynamic plot trajectory. It's overall a much more down-beat story.

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