DVD Review – Outside The Law (Hors La Loi)

Here in Scotland, we hear daily about First Minister Alec Salmond’s attempts to alienate Scotland from the rest of the UK, he constantly claims Scots have been ‘oppressed’ by the English for hundreds of year. He boasts constantly how Scotland would be better off the country would be better off independent but any sane person knows the only thing detached from anything is Salmond’s own brain, this is a man who gives out more money to building monuments, millions of painting trains blue and station names to Gaelic whilst his beloved nation suffers high unemployment, schools close. Forget the fantasies Alec, Outside The Law is a true battle against oppression, a fight for independence a film that dramatises Algeria’s long bloody struggle with France.

Outside The Law is a fierce historical tale following 3 Algerian Brothers who we first meet as young boys as they witness their mother been evicted from the family’s farm becoming the catalyst that spurs the family onto to fight for Algeria’s freedom.  Abdelkader (Sami Bouajila) is regarded as the intellectual one of the brothers who protests on an anti-colonial march which turned into a riot when French soldiers fired on the protestors, he watched the atrocities   Indepenecehappened around him inspiring him to become the leader of the FLN Independence Movement) whilst imprisoned. Messaoud (Roschady Zem) a ex-French Soldier  who fought for France during the Indochina war where he was a P.O.W he also returns home disillusioned on what’s happening. Said (Jamel Debbouze) starts first at home picking up the pieces after his father’s death eventually heads to Paris for a life as a pimp, club owner, working in boxing halls a life of crime which becomes fundraiser’s for FLN. Eventually, Said is joined by his 2 brothers with Abdelkader becomes the Paris branch leader of FLN, still, the 3 brothers have their own objectives but when their paths cross again at the oppression Algerians suffered in France they join together once again fighting for liberty, freedom   of the motherland…Algeria.

Outside The Law is a continuation of the Bouchareb’s  2006 film Days of Glory but this time the director has opted for a more epic narrative adventure depicting the brutality alongside the melodramatic human side of the story. When you look at the filmmaker’s filmography of the past few years you could regard Bouchareb as Algeria’s answer to Ken Loach portraying  the injustices if Algeria giving a voice to the voiceless. This film is the voice of Algeria but of no one else and you can see why this movie caused an uproar at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival when quite a few French protested.

When you have a story that’s politically motivated like Outside The Law, the group that fighting against the struggle it can be a difficult task to convince the viewer their group (FLN) was an honourable one, sadly I wasn’t as convinced though the actual fight for independence was honourable. One of the reasons could possibly be a lack of knowledge on the Algerian-French battle, I felt like that kid lost in a toyshop loving what I’m watching but no clue what you’re watching at times. When the group uses to profit from crime along with terrorist acts depending on your own political views/knowledge of the struggle could possibly determine your views and enjoyment of the film.As the movie seems to be one sided you may not realise this era in French history is regarded as a black spot so if you knew that info you’ll know France were not innocent in the whole affair.

Overall Outside The Law is an engaging savage story that had to be told, but it was also a movie that felt more at home with The Godfather rather than a piece of history from a country struggling for independence. Overdone by the slightly heavy handed one-sided plot which could scare off potential viewers, however, great set-pieces, wonderful visuals, solid acting making this movie a very enjoyable despite   it been a tad too long on the running time.

Available on DVD & Blu-Ray Now.

★★★| Paul Devine

War, Drama, History | Algeria, 2009 | 15 | 29th August 2011 (UK) | Studiocanal | Dir.Rachid Bouchareb | Jamel Debbouze, Roschdy Zem, Sami Bouajila


Originally posted at Cinehouse |10th September 2011

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