Hors normes [The Specials] (2019)

Hors normes
Director: Olivier Nakache, Éric Toledano
Writer: Olivier Nakache, Éric Toledano
Cast: Vincent Cassel, Reda Kateb, Hélène Vincent, Bryan Mialoundama, Alban Ivanov, Benjamin Lesieur, Marco Locatelli, Catherine Mouchet, Frédéric Pierrot, Suliane Brahim, Lyna Khoudri, Aloïse Sauvage, Djibril Yoni
Seen on: 10.1.2020

Content Note: ableism

Bruno (Vincent Cassel) and Malik (Reda Kateb) are best friends and also do the same job: they each run organizations that work with disabled and/or neuroatypical people, mostly autistic teens and young adults that everybody else seems to have given up on. When Bruno’s organization is being inspected again, it just adds to his overall workload and frustration. As if he hadn’t enough on his plate already, trying to do right by all of the children in his care.

I was hesitant about seeing the film, given that Intouchables has a less than great record when it comes to handling disability (I didn’t see it at the time, so my review linked above is very hype-y, but I have learned in the last decade). But since I worked with autistic children myself and since I like Cassel and Kateb, I figured I’d give it a go. I really, really, shouldn’t have. Hors normes is a sanctification of social workers that fails to take into account the perspective of the people they work with for even a second. That’s not how you make a film about such a sensitive topic. Or about any topic.

The film poster showing Bruno (Vincent Cassel) and Mailk (Reda Kateb).
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Les bienheureux [The Blessed] (2017)

Les bienheureux
Director: Sofia Djama
Writer: Sofia Djama
Cast: Salima AbadaFaouzi BensaïdiAdam BessaSami BouajilaNadia KaciLyna KhoudriAmine Lansari
Seen on: 6.9.2017

It’s 2008 and Samir (Sami Bouajila) and Amal (Nadia Kaci) are celebrating their 20th anniversary in Algiers, remembering not only their relationship, but also the time of the civil war. Meanwhile their son Fahim (Amine Lansari) and his friends Feriel (Lyna Khoudri) and Reda (Adam Bessa) are having a different kind of night out: Reda wants to get a surah tattooed, an act of faith for him that may very well be perceived as blasphemous. Fahim, who is mostly preoccupied with pissing of his parents, and Feriel – a progressive young woman outspoken in her politics – don’t really understand Reda, but as they have nothing better to do, they join him on his quest to find somebody willing to do it.

The Blessed takes a while to get where its going, but once it’s underway, it carries quite a punch, sketching a layered picture of a struggling, post-war society.

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