When three Algerian brothers, wheeler-dealer Saïd (Jamel Debbouze), ex-serviceman Messaoud (Roschdy Zem) and Abdelkader (Sami Bouajila), witness the extremes of France's control in Algeria, they find themselves increasingly politicised. A violent struggle awaits them.
As a wise man once said, the past is a rebuke to the present, which is maybe why a thousand French people turned up to protest about Outside The Law at Cannes last year. Unsurprising, given the revelations that arise in this story of three Algerian brothers ousted from their farm who end up leading the Algerian independence movement in 1950s Paris. Part history lesson and part action thriller, it focuses on the ugly struggle between the Algerian National Liberation Front and the French authorities. Torture and cruelty are common, and the men try to lead normal lives in shantytowns as they’re attempting, bloodily, to bend history to their will. It’s engaging, savage and fleetingly paced; a thrilling ride.
Controversial and contended it may be in France, but whatever your stance this is another thrilling and thoughtful slice of history from the Days Of Glory director.
Reviewed by Philip Wilding