Monday, June 30, 2014

Salvation Army (L'armée du salut)

Salvation Army (L'armée du salut), dir. Abdellah Taïa, France, 2013, 82 min., French and Arabic with English subtitles
Friday, June 20, 9:30 pm @ Victoria
Friday, June 27, 7:00 pm @ Roxie

Said Mrini (L) as young Abdellah
Salvation Army (L’armee du salut) is the semi-autobiographical story of Abdellah, a Moroccan boy coming of age in a society that is not welcoming of homosexuality, besides which he has to deal with a physically abusive father, a mother who consults with a sorceress for a magic amulet to cast spells over family members, and his own more-than-fraternal affection for his brother. We see Abdellah as a teen, a neurotic mess of a mama’s boy, going on a road trip with his brother and disappearing for the occasional rendez-vous with a local shopkeeper. We then flash forward ten years, to Abdellah accompanying a Swiss tourist, not translating all of his conversation with the conniving local boatman who is taking them on a sightseeing trip. Flash forward another four months to find Abdellah in Geneva with no money and no place to stay, waiting for a scholarship that he has won but can’t yet access. He runs into his tourist friend at the university, but has a bizarre interaction with him, and Abdellah’s actions and motivations are completely opaque. He finally winds up at a Salvation Army hostel with other immigrants, sharing an orange and a song with another Moroccan, at which point the film just ends. The whole story is an episodic unveiling of a character whom we never really see from his own internal perspective, even when we are alone with him in his private moments. There are some interesting bits, but the film doesn't cohere as a whole. Meh; not recommended.

IMDb pageclip from the film (with English subtitles) •

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