Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"Some films take time to gather momentum, but there’s a sense of movement right from the off in Kamal Lazraq’s debut feature."

Some films take time to gather momentum, but there’s a sense of movement right from the off in Kamal Lazraq’s debut feature. He thrusts us into a dog fight where Hassan (Abdellatif Masstouri) is among those on the losing end, something you sense that he’s used to. That it’s not a fair fight is par for the course and an indicator of where this story is likely to lead as we begin to follow him, and this is merely the start of Lazraq’s propulsively enjoyable thriller.

The dog belongs to a local gang leader Dib (Abdellah Lebkiri) and its demise leaves him rabid for revenge. It’s meant to be “a small job” and, as Hassan co-opts in his son Issam (Ayoub Elaid) to help he tells him, “God willing it will help keep us afloat”. In fact, the pair of them are soon going to be all at sea figuratively and, ultimately, literally as they discover that if something can go wrong it will.

It turns out there is nothing small about the man they’re trying to kidnap and they struggle to even get him into the unreliable vehicle they’ve been given for the job. When he’s dead on arrival, they’re faced with the unenviable task of trying to dispose of his hulking body by dawn, a chore that will take them on an odyssey through the night-time streets of Casablanca and beyond as the wide reaching links of this particular unsavoury food chain are explored.

Hassan and Issam make a great double-act. The older man is wiry and haunted by a life on the fringes, not to mention impetuous when it comes to decision making. This causes friction with his more reserved son, who still has some sort of moral compass in terms of right and wrong but feels a sense of duty to do what his father requests. Lazraq cast non-professionals in the roles and though both men are convincing, their regular appearance adds to the general air of authenticity. Meanwhile, P.R2B’s jazzy, woodwind-inflected score stokes the atmosphere.

Hassan and Issam may be in a dog eat dog world but Lazraq leavens the film’s darker moments with some tragicomic humour and, perhaps even more surprisingly for this sort of thriller, humanity, while the ticking clock of trying to find a solution before dawn breaks ensures the pace never slackens.

Reviewed on: 30 Apr 2024
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A fateful night in the life of a father and son after a kidnapping goes awry.

Director: Kamal Lazraq

Writer: Kamal Lazraq

Starring: Ayoub Elaid, Abdellatif Masstouri, Mohamed Hmimsa, Abdellatif Lebkiri, Lahcen Zaimouzen, Salah Bensalah, Mohamed Kharbouchi, Amine Arakhisis, Amine Malouf, Hicham Bidar, Abdellah Bensaid, Abdelhak Saleh, Mohamed Jenkher, Amine Aboudrar, Hassan Ben Bdida

Year: 2023

Runtime: 94 minutes

Country: Morocco, France, Belgium, Qatar, Saudi Arabia

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