April 25, 2015

Far From Men (2014)

Far From Men (2014) - Movie Review
Directed by: David Oelhoffen
Country: France

Movie Review: Loosely adapted from Albert Camus’ existentialist short story “The Guest”, “Far From Men” is probably the most generous tale I’ve seen lately on film. Taking us to 1954’ rebellious Algeria, more precisely to the Atlas mountains, the third feature from writer/director David Oelhoffen overcomes every possible conflict among religions, probing an unlikely friendship between Daru (Viggo Mortensen), a solitary French Algerian-born schoolteacher, and a man entrusted to his care, Mohamed (Reda Kateb), a non-rebel Arab farmer who slit his cousin’s throat in a squabble about grain. The reluctant Daru, also a former French Army official, was ordered to take this apparently craven man to Tinguit to face trial and hear a verdict that certainly wouldn’t bring anything different than death. Surprisingly, is Mohamed himself who asks to be taken there, humbly accepting his fate. The fatiguing long walk, throughout the precarious rocky ground and occasional harsh weather conditions, will bring many encounters, some unwelcome, some less bad. As a man of principles, Daru gets visibly affected whenever an extreme situation forces him to kill. All he wants is to get back to his tiny school, but after listening to what the prisoner-turned-companion has to say, he presents him with the most beautiful of the gifts: the choice of freedom. At the sound of exotic melodies composed by Warren Ellis and Nick Cave, Oelhoffen thoroughly recreates the suffocating atmosphere of Camus’ works, thanks to the arid landscapes captured by the lens of cinematographer Guillaume Deffontaines, even if the pronounced Western genre seems a bit unreasonable within this context. Equally humane and sad, rather gentler than vibrant, the extremely well acted “Far From Men” addresses war, choices and courage in a very personalized way.

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