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A Review of "La Faute A Voltaire"

by Robert Abrams
March 29, 2001




A Review of "La Faute A Voltaire"


Robert Abrams


3/29/2001





"La Faute A Voltaire" is a new film from France directed by Abdel Kechiche. This is a film about Arab immigration to France and the happiness, as well as the difficulties, such immigrants face.

The film runs 130 minutes, which would be normal for a film from
the 70s, but is very long for a modern movie. The film is, in some sense, two films spliced together. The first story concerns Jallel and Nassera. The second film concerns Jallel and Lucie (played by Sami Bouajila and Elodie Bouchez).

I found the first story very gripping. The action moved along at a good pace. Important ideas were discussed. There was a phenomenal Arab dance scene set in a coffee shop. The movie was worth watching for this scene alone.

The second story had a completely different feel. The action moved very slowly (the phrase "mud, mud, mud" comes to mind). There was too much sex depicted - and not the good kind either. There was one outdoor dance scene in this story, but it wasn't worth sitting through the preceeding half an hour to get to.

Don't get me wrong. The second story had some important things to say and was well acted. It just could have used a little editing.

For "La Faute A Voltaire" to have a shot at commercial success, I strongly suggest that Mr. Kechiche split it into two films. The Jallel and Nassera story has real potential. The Jallel and Lucie story can be saved for the hard core foreign film audience. Consider expanding the coffee shop dance scene into a music video. And definitely do a sequel centered on Nassera (played by Aure Atika). Nassera is a great character and I kept wondering where she had gone during the second half of the film. The cinema has a pressing need for more strong female characters with interesting histories played by talented and attractive actresses who are capable dancers. Nassera and Ms. Atika would certainly fit this bill.

"La Faute A Voltaire" debuted at the MoMA's New Directors/New Films Festival 2001.

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