Tibhirine, Algeria. 1996. A Trappist monastery is stormed by members of the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria. The monks, lead by the implacable Christian (Wilson), are left caught in the middle of a stand-off between the terrorists and an equally extreme Algerian government.
The Cannes Jury’s 2010 Grand Prix winner, this sublime French drama is tender and quietly terrifying, deeply beautiful and genuinely inspirational. Based on the story of an Algerian monastery taken by Islamic fundamentalists in 1996, it contrasts the idyll of the monks’ gentle lives, and their popularity with local Muslims, with the abrupt violence of being caught between a corrupt government and implacable extremists. The monks, held together by Christian (Lambert Wilson), wrestle with faith and fear, ultimately embracing whatever comes in their mission “to be brothers to all”. Superb performances and intense but restrained direction deliver profound food for thought in the ongoing global conflict of -isms. It has great tunes, too, chant-wise.
Xavier Beauvois's Cannes winner is a spellbinder drama about courage and faith and a fascinating take on global extremism.