(Hors La Loi)
The handsome, impetuous Messaoud (Roschdy Zem), the intellectual, introspective Abdelkader (Sami Bouajila) and the short, chirpy Saïd (played by Jamel Debbouze, one of France's most celebrated comedians) are the sons of a poor farmer in western Algeria. In 1925 a local landlord sells the family farm to a French settler and they are turfed out. The film then jumps forward to 1945 when, on VE Day, the celebrations in Paris are accompanied in the Algerian town of Sétif by a liberation march that explodes into violence resulting in the deaths of a couple of hundred Europeans and the massacre of several thousand Algerians, including the Souni boys' father.
The movie sets out to be even-handed in the apportioning of blame without trying to defend France's intransigence and the failure to recognise the humiliation and spiritual deprivation involved in colonialism. Bouchareb generally manages to keep sight of the larger political and human dimensions, and there is a beguiling performance by Jamel Debbouze as the realistic, resilient Saïd, who loves his brothers but distrusts the revolution and the ruthlessness it demands.