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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

LE GRAND VOYAGE (2004)



Ismaël Ferrroukhi debuted as writer/megger in this generally pleasing, but awfully familiar father/son tale. Nicolas Cazalé gets good use out of his fine sulky face as a French/Moroccan high school kid who gets dragooned by his taciturn old man (Mohammed Majd) to drive him all the way to Mecca for the Hadj. You can guess the rest. Kid resents, father knows best, life lessons learned, new understanding between generations, bittersweet ending . . . ah, humanity . . . ah, road movies. Fortunately, the film doesn’t push itself too hard at us (the relaxed pacing feels just right) and the performances, varied landscapes & masses of Hadj pilgrims (Hadjers? Hadjists?) easily hold our attention. But note, halfway thru the pic, an engaging middle-aged Turk shows up to get them out of a fix. Serendipity or scam artist? Kismet or commerce? Or maybe, he’s a character who might have been developed into a more original movie?

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