Sunday, September 11, 2005

October 17, 1961 (Alain Tasma)

October 17, 1961 (Alain Tasma) 35 – I’m not having much luck with my random slot fillers this year…

This dramatization of the French police response to the local FLN presence during the Algiers conflict fails to excite. Starting out, almost promisingly, as a French Bloody Sunday, it soon ditches its nervous handheld camerawork, bizarrely becoming less frenetic as the tensions rise. I’m not certain that this production was made for French television, but I wouldn’t at all be surprised to find out that that was the case.

Although there are sequences included to give the illusion of impartiality, it’s ultimately a thoroughly one-sided account of the affair. Its characterizations are facile. When one man asks his brother, who is studying furiously, in the opening moments, “Don’t you ever stop?” you know that you can count the man amongst the future victims. When the ordeal is over, it’s the account of a white woman that gets the most screen time, as if the filmmakers were already certain that the Algerian perspective had been adequately conveyed. It isn’t unfortunately, since the film is more interested in finger-pointing at bad cops.

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