DIR/WRI:: Rachid Bouchareb • PRO: Jean Bréhat • DOP: Christophe Beaucarne • ED: Yannick Kergoat • DES: Yan Arlaud • Cast: Jamel Debbouze, Roschdy Zem and Sami Bouajila
Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi) finally gets a release in Irish cinemas after its successful screening at last year’s French Film Festival at Dublin’s IFI. Rachid Bouchareb’s eagerly anticipated film is a powerful tale of three brothers who survive the Sétif massacre in French-occupied Algeria in 1945 after WWII and relocate to Paris and organise the underground Algerian independence movement.
Bouchareb’s film has become infamous at this stage for causing over 1000 protesters to gather in the face of riot police to denounce the film’s ‘anti-French’ and ‘pro-terrorist’ stance at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. There must have been a few empty posh bars along the Boulevard de la Croisette that night.
Outside the Law tells the story of three brothers who in their different ways become entwined within the struggle to secure Algerian independence in Paris. Abdelkader (Sami Bouajila) is released from prison after serving a sentence for radical activity. Messaoud (Roschdy Zem) is a veteran of France’s war in Indochina. Saïd (Jamel Debouze) runs a nightclub and trains a young Algerian boxer. Abdelkader is the force behind the brothers’ attempts at a bloody revolution and Bouajila’s performance is a commanding portrayal of determination and total belief in the extremes he and his fellow countrymen must go to secure what is rightfully theirs. The film never shies away from pointing out how people are forced to violent extremes when political options are denied them.
Bouchareb handles the action sequences with great skill and keeps a tight rein on the epic scope of the film that spans numerous years maintaining a pace that belies its 138-minute running time. Outside the Law is a potent piece of filmmaking that asks questions of French cinema to open itself up to deal with its nation’s colonial past.
Outside the Lawis released on 6th May 2011