a tarantinesque thriller in Algiers, with Benoît Magimel and Reda Kateb

Omar (Reda Kateb) and Roger (Benoît Magimel) in


Omar fishing! We’ve never seen Reda Kateb like that: mid-length, slicked back hair, a vulgar coat, flashy chat and clothes. He plays Omar, in Omar the strawberry, the first feature film by Franco-Algerian Elias Belkeddar, presented at a midnight session in Cannes, which will be released in France on Wednesday May 24. Author of a short film, a wedding day (2018), selected for Critics’ Week, the 30-year-old filmmaker also signed the music video for DJ Snake, Maghreb disco.

This is the story of a Franco-Algerian bandit who must pull over from his cars and keep quiet, in Algiers, after being sentenced in absentia to twenty years in prison in France. Omar is devastated, he had planned to return to Paris… His friend and accomplice, Roger (Benoît Magimel in a white suit and sungles, as if he had just left pacificationby Albert Serra), will support him if we can say in his reconversion. What a tandem, not very smart! Elias Kelkeddar overdoses his characters, installing a hilarious atmosphere, and makes the viewer accept everything that falls from the sky.

Benoît Magimel as a lazy king

Omar thus finds himself managing a pastry business. Very quickly, his heart begins to beat for the magnificent Samia (Meriem Amiar, a great discovery), the foreman, who oversees the making of the cakes. But can such a determined woman allow herself to be bamboozled by such a mariole? Omar persists, his attempts at seduction make him more real and endearing. At the same time, he plunges back into a small business, takes control of the factory by organizing the (temporary) kidnapping of his boss, while settling scores with gangsters, thanks to the help of street children. Tarantino in Algiers! Blows rain down, blood flows and nothing is serious. Magimel, as a lazy king in his villa overlooking the sea, the desperately empty swimming pool, waiting for a repairman who will never come, gives the film some well-felt hesitations.

This film is a treat, but beneath the sugary layer is something more deeply documentary. Like a piece of Algeria, with its warmth and energy. The faces of men, frenetic wagers on animal fights, life in the neighborhoods, Bab El Oued and Climat de France, a city built by Fernand Pouillon (1912-1986). But also the vivacity of the kids left to themselves, with whom the director worked during workshops, filming them without misery.

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