The Cut (2014)

The Cut
Director: Fatih Akin
Writer: Fatih Akin, Mardik Martin
Cast: Tahar Rahim, Simon Abkarian, Makram Khoury, Hindi Zahra, Kevork Malikyan, Bartu Küçükçaglayan, Trine Dyrholm, Moritz Bleibtreu (in a mini-cameo)
Seen on: 15.01.2015

Plot:
Nazaret (Tahar Rahim) is an Armenian in the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the 20th century. That is not the best place to be an Armenian and as the political situation results in the Armenian Genocide, Nazaret is separated from his family and forced into slavery in the desert, building roads. Against all odds, he survives the ordeal, though he does lose the ability to speak due to getting stabbed in the throat. When the situation allows it, he sets off to find his family again, a search that leads him across the world.

The Armenian Genocide is certainly something that we know very little about in Europe and so films like The Cut are important to give an introduction to the subject. But unfortunately, other than that it didn’t work for me at all.

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À l’intérieur [Inside] (2007)

À l’intérieur
Director: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Writer: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Cast: Alysson Paradis, Béatrice Dalle, François-Régis Marchasson (and Tahar Rahim in a mini-role)
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
[Reviews by cornholio and Maynard Morrissey.]

Plot:
A few months ago, pregnant Sarah (Alysson Paradis) was in a car accident. Her husband died, she and the baby survived. But Sarah has been shell-shocked ever since and can’t really look forward to the child, even though birth is drawing ever closer. One night, a woman (Béatrice Dalle) knocks on her door and asks to use the phone. When Sarah refuses she tries to force her way inside. Rattled, Sarah calls the police who can find no trace of the strange woman. But that doesn’t mean she’s gone and has given up getting what she wants: Sarah’s child.

There is a lot to appreciate about Inside, at least before it descends into the realm of utter stupidity (which is about the last third of the film). For me, the parts that didn’t work outweighed the parts that did though.

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Le passé [The Past] (2013)

Le passé
Director: Asghar Farhadi
Writer: Asghar Farhadi
Cast: Ali Mosaffa, Bérénice Bejo, Tahar Rahim, Pauline Burlet, Elyes Aguis, Jeanne Jestin, Sabrina Ouazani
Part of: Viennale

Plot:
Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) just returned to France from Iran to finalize his divorce from Marie (Bérénice Bejo). What he doesn’t know is that Marie already lives with a new man, Samir (Tahar Rahim) and his son Fouad (Elyes Aguis), a realization with which he struggles a bit. But not as much as Marie’s oldest daughter Lucie (Pauline Burlet). Since Ahmad and Lucie get along very well, Marie asks him to discover what’s going on. Ahmad agrees and suddenly finds himself deeper in his ex-wife’s new life than he thought he would be.

Le passé starts off as a very well-made, very normal divorce story. It then descends into melodramatic depths, though, that only hurt the credibility of and my interest in the story.

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Grand Central (2013)

Grand Central
Director: Rebecca Zlotowski
Writer: Gaëlle Macé, Rebecca Zlotowski
Cast: Tahar Rahim, Léa Seydoux, Olivier Gourmet, Denis Ménochet, Johan Libéreau
Part of: Viennale

Plot:
Gary (Tahar Rahim) has been looking for work and barely has any money at all. So when he ends up working in a nuclear power plant, he feels like he gets a new chance. Especially since he likes his colleagues Gilles (Olivier Gourmet) and Toni (Denis Ménochet) with whom he also practically lives together. But it really is Toni’s girlfriend Karole (Léa Seydoux) who keeps him there.

Grand Central has an interesting setting and a great cast. The plot itself is nothing to write home about, but that’s kind of the point. It does get a little long, but generally it was really good.

grandcentral

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À perdre la raison [Our Children] (2012)

À perdre la raison (either translated to Our Children or Loving Without Reason)
Director: Joachim Lafosse
Writer: Thomas Bidegain, Joachim Lafosse, Matthieu Reynaert
Cast: Émilie Dequenne, Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup
Part of: Viennale

Plot:
Mounir (Tahar Rahim) was originally from Marocco but came to Belgium under the tutelage of André Pinget (Niels Arestrup), a doctor who adopted Mounir, took him in and basically provided everything for him. So it is clear to Mounir that he owes André everything and couldn’t possibly leave him. Not even when Mounir meets Murielle (Émilie Dequenne) and they fall in love. So Murielle moves in with the two men and everything seems to  be going fine at first. But as the situation drags on and the stress is increased by the rapid arrival of children, Murielle’s nerves become more and more frayed.

Damn, people. Sometimes I hate myself because I always go for those emotionally traumatizing films. À perdre la raison is definitely a harrowing experience (especially since it’s based on actual events) because it was such a well-made movie. I guess you have to be a masochistic viewer to go for that kind of thing, but if you are, you’re getting your money’s worth out of this one.

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Un prophète [A Prophet] (2009)

A Prophet is the newest film by Jacques Audiard, starring Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup and Adel Bencherif.

Plot:
Malik (Tahar Rahim) is moved from juvie to normal prison. He doesn’t belong to any group (not religious enough for the muslims, too muslim for anybody else), which is why he’s quickly chosen by the Corse prisoners, under the leadership of César (Niels Arestrup), to carry out the assassination of another inmate. Against all odds, Malik succeeds. From then on, he’s under the protection of the Corse prisoners and slowly makes his way up in the prison world.

A Prophet is an excellent movie. The acting as well as the directing are strong in this one, but it remains surprisingly pointless. It’s 150 minutes long, and at the end you feel like saying, “wait, that’s it?”

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