Eye For Film >> Movies >> Zanka Contact (2020) Film Review
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
Fans of David Lynch's Wild At Heart will find much to love in this Moroccan kindred spirit of a movie that has energy to burn from the off. The title itself refers to the Moroccan slang phrase for "street fighting" and it's an entirely appropriate description for writer/director Ismael El Iraki's pugilistic and unruly, heavy metal style, as he drags us straight into the melee via prostitute Rajae (Khansa Batma), who has just left her last job in a hurry and, in an indication of Iraki's take-no-prisoners attitude, is regaling a taxi driver with a joke about "a whore and an Islamist". Some of what follows may feel a bit scrappy in places, but El Iraki ensures the hits keep coming, dragging us back with a new twist every time we think he's stopped for breath.
Rajae's path is about to cross that of Larsen (Ahmed Mammoud), a heroin-addicted rocker, who once had it all but is now down to the snakeskin outfit he stands up in and his snakeskin covered guitar - even his voice has been taken by heroin. Something immediately bristles between them and soon this hard-drinking gal and the washed-up star will be taking on the world - or at least the small bit of it Rajae inhabits, namely her pimp Said (Said Bey) and corrupt cop Mourad (Mourad Zaoui), who is angry with her for pissing off (by pissing on) his father. Oh, and they'll be making some beautiful music together along the way, which gives Batma, who is better known for her music in her homeland, the chance to show off her lungs.
The plot is less important than the feel for El Iraki, something he emphasises early on when Larsen explains he is biting the strings of his guitar to turn his own body into an amp for the music. The director wants us to tune into the thrum of quivering emotions and chooses his music accordingly - from a rocking version of A Man Of Constant Sorrow by the fabulously named The Texas Chainsaw Dust Lovers to the title track of the film and Larsen's ealy hit Full Contact Love. The cast bite hard on the material, too, so that Batma and Mammoud sell the more melancholy elements of their romance, even if their trauma feels somewhat 'prepackaged' and Bey finds a surprising amount of nuance in the slightly cartoonish Said, although Mourad's deliberately stereotypical bad guy sits unevenly with the tone of the rest.
The barest hooks of a narrative are here but stitched together with a lot of energy and stylish flourishes from cinematographer Benjamin Rufi, particularly in trippy flashback sequences. El Iraki also draws on elements of the spaghetti western as the Larsen and Rajae's rocky road to romance continues, leading to a heartfelt little cameo from Fatima Atiff as an ageing tart with a heart. Like any street brawl, the end result may be messy and uneven but nobody can deny it's a punchy little watch.Reviewed on: 12 Jun 2021