Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

Samia, a French teenager of Algerian extraction, lives with her large family in a cramped Marseilles apartment. She and her sisters struggle each day with the tensions they experience between being ordinary French teenagers, interested in clothes, boys and so forth, and the desire of their traditionalist parents to maintain their Algerian and Islamic culture.

Tensions come to a head when Samia's father goes into hospital and her elder brother assumes control of the household, attempting to run it on even more traditional principles.

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Though not very original, this unpretentious, well-intentioned drama from Phillippe Faucon deals with its potentially difficult subject seriously, honestly and even handedly.

The director and co-writer - himself of Moroccan ancestry - makes it clear that one cannot simply say the French are racists and the Arabs victims.

White racism - whether it be the boneheads who hurl abuse at Samia and her family, or the insidious institutional racism of a careers counsellor, whose guidance is suspect - is certainly there.

But Arabs, divided along lines of culture, generation, language (the dialogue continually shifts back and forth between French and Arabic, depending on the locale and context) and, above all, gender, must also bear some responsibility.

In particular, women like Samia's mother are depicted as suffering from a false consciousness, their self-defeating belief in male prerogatives perpetuating their, and their daughters', disempowerment.

Don't see Samia, expecting East Is East, with a French accent. Though the subject matter is somewhat similar, this is a straight drama, devoid of comic moments and Seventies retro.

Reviewed on: 24 Aug 2001
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Straightforward, honest drama about culture and generational clashes in a French-Algerian family.

Director: Philippe Faucon

Writer: Philippe Faucon, Soraya Nini

Starring: Lynda Benahouda, Mohamed Chaoch, Kheira Oualhaci, Lakhdar Smati, Nadia El Koutei, Yamina Amri, Farida Abdallah Hadj, Aicha Abdelhamid, Amel Sahnoune, Marie Riviere

Year: 2000

Runtime: 79 minutes

Country: France


EIFF 2001

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