drama | NR | 1hr 7min
Opening at GFC: 12/13/2019
Saïd Hamich’s taut semi-autobiographical drama avoids all the clichés of the “banlieue- film,” that highly uneven subgenre of films set in French housing projects, generally populated by people of North African descent and too often devoted to the spectacle of cops chasing dealers, to provide an insightful, at times painful look at the challenges and contradictions experienced by the children of North African immigrants to France. Return to Bollène features the carefully nuanced, resonant story of Nassim, a French-Moroccan businessman based in Abu Dabi who returns to the South of France and his hometown of Bollène to attend his sister’s engagement ceremony and introduce his American fiancée to his family. Through a series of encounters with family members and old acquaintances, a subtle picture emerges of a brilliant young man in flight from his traditional family and the dead-end town where he was raised. While it is powerfully astute and balanced in its assessment of the situation in France—notably on the rise of the extreme right—Return to Bollène achieves a universal quality in its depiction of alienation born of exclusion and shame.
Anas El Baz, Kate Colebrook, Saïd Benchnafa
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