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Sunday, August 9, 2015

L’ARMÉE DU SALUT / SALVATION ARMY (2013)

A rare gay-themed autobiographical coming-of-age novel from Morocco, it marks the writing-directing debut of author Abdellah Taia. A character piece built from small incident, its teenage protagonist glides uncomfortably thru family life (cramped living conditions, admired older brother, bickering parents) and the streets of his working-class Casablanca neighborhood where he willingly (?) trades sex with older men for favor & affection. Ten years later, now a young man, Abdellah has moved on to European tourists, gaining a college scholarship in Geneva in trade. Taia is at his best in matter-of-fact observation, the congested homelife is striking and a surge of unexpected threat on a rented boat unsettling. But when the tension runs down, the texture grows thin, and Taia hurts his case with a serious casting error on his two Abdellahs. No way could the soft-featured, wide-eyed teen grow into that wary, sharp-featured young man.

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