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Reviews: The String - "Nice"; Marine Story - "Worthy"

Fri 27 May 2011 In: Movies View at NDHA

Salim Kechiouche The String (Le Fil) 2009. France (English subtitles). 93mins Dir: Medhi Ben Attia Staring: Antonin Stahly-Vishwanadan, Salim Kechiouche, Claudia Cardinale There are any number of stringy metapors which imply the need to break free... tied to mother's apron strings, the ties that bind, stringing someone along, strung out... and all are gently woven into this story of exotic, forbidden love. Malik (Antonin Stahly-Vishwanadan) is the privileged, educated and Europeanised son of a mixed mariage. His Mother French, his father Arab. After his father's death he returns to the family home in Tunisia and his emotionally manipulative Catholic mother. Soon he's fallen head over heels with Bilal (Salim Kechiouche), the family's new barefoot arab houseboy. All along the way there are expectations dashed, boundaries broken and hypocrisies exposed. It's a gentle, nice movie, which is perhaps both its strength and its weakness. We want the boys to walk into the sunset, and their lesbo-friends too. We want the bitch mother (Claudia Cardinale) to losen up. And it all happens, more or less, but somehow without drama, without the intense yearning that adversity adds to a story of love against the odds. There are hints of Malik's internal anguish, but only hints. The string metaphor is present but almost needlessly. Still, it's sweet and quietly paced and the north African settings are well-captured. There's enough eye candy for everyone. Best performance is the grande dame of French cinema Cardinale who dazzles and dominates. And not far behind are her gaggle of slightly creepy expat friends. Best eye candy is Kechiouche as Bilal: smouldering sensuality in every frame. - Jay Bennie A Marine Story 2010. US. 98 mins. Dir. Ned Farr Starring: Dreya Weber, Paris Pickard The grim reality of the US military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy is explored in A Marine Story, a film which tells the story of a tough ex-marine who has been 'honourably discharged' after proof of 'homosexual conduct' emerges. Dreya Weber (The Gymnast) plays the buff, no-nonsense Alexandra, who has returned to her hometown and is trying to deal with being back in the civilian world. We are introduced to her no-nonsense attitude as she takes down a P-head who is trying to rob a local store, sparking a chain of events that last throughout the film, chiefly the arrival of a troubled young woman on her doorstep who needs to be shaped up for the military or she will be sent to jail (Paris Pickard). Alexandra's journey to finding a place in the world outside the military is a strange and cold one. Set in the dry California landscape, the film seems somewhat emotionless. However after years of tough conditioning, Alexandra is so hard she herself is almost emotionless and perhaps this is what the filmmakers are trying to portray. But it's not without humour or fun. Clever dialogue and one liners such as "I wish ignorance was painful" pop up. There are gratuitous hosing off scenes and plenty of rock hard female abs. And while Weber's character is undeniably hard, she is also convincing as the strong thrown-off centre of the film, showing the impact of the 'don't ask don't tell' policy on countless men and women who were just trying to do a job they loved. - Jacqui Stanford Jay Bennie and Jacqui Stanford - 27th May 2011    

Credit: Jay Bennie and Jacqui Stanford

First published: Friday, 27th May 2011 - 8:33am

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