An early scene in Ordinary Boys sees three Moroccan women talking over tea about the evils of terrorism—specifically, its perversion of Islam and the deliberate brainwashing of the uneducated to carry out suicide attacks. Moments such as this come across as strained attempts at appealing to Western audiences, but aside from these flirtations with glib discourse, Daniel Hernández’s film proves something of an anti-Crash in its examination of socio-political ills, particularly in the broad, universal manner it addresses the weight of poverty in the Middle East and the difficulty imposed on ordinary citizens trying to live an honest life. Relatively speaking, the film covers little in the way of new ground, but there isn’t a condescending bone in its body and there surely exists an audience that will find edification in its direct storytelling methods. Shot with an amateur quality that suggests a fly-on-the-wall documentary, the film creates a genuine sense of spontaneity that aids in the effortless definition of character, an element aided by the use of the actors’ own names. Far more flesh and blood than talking-point caricatures, they’re defined not by the issues they’re forced to confront (terrorism, sexual oppression, U.S. foreign policy), but their own moment-to-moment choices in response to such dilemmas. Following three partially, incidentally intertwined narratives confined to a small radius of Tétouan, the film focuses most heavily on Youseff, whose mutilated leg and missing brother have left him in anger and despair, but it is actually the struggles of Rabia, an emotionally estranged feminist out of her cultural element, that penetrate the deepest in this modest, affecting piece of filmmaking.
- 87 min
- Daniel Hernández
- Daniel Hernández
- Rabia Bouchfira, El-Khader Aoulasse, Youseff Belefki, Mohammed Saadoun
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