Free Men Review

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Occupied Paris, 1942. Low-level black marketeer Younes (Rahim) just wants to keep his nose clean and avoid attracting the attention of the occupying Nazis. Gradually, though, encounters with an Arab resistance member and an Algerian Jew brings out a new side to him. Before long he's joining the struggle.


Younes (A Prophet's Tahar Rahim), an Algerian immigrant eking out a living in Nazi-occupied Paris by smuggling contraband, undergoes a radicalisation from apolitical black market operator to freedom fighter in the second feature from the award-winning Ismaël Ferroukhi. Through Younes, a fictitious composite of Algerian/Arabic immigrant heroes of the French Resistance, Ferroukhi tells the true story of a nightclub singer (Mahmoud Shalaby), one of dozens of Jews who escaped the Nazis thanks to false papers provided by the Grand Mosque’s rector (Michael Lonsdale). The slow-building drama may prove flavourless for some, but the gripping final sequences suggest the next target in the heroes’ sights: freeing their homeland from the French.

It may lack the punch of his turn in A Prophet, but Rahim again dominates the screen in an effective wartime thriller.