Our review of “Chouf”
It starts as we would like it to end. With a glimmer of hope. Sofiane, in his twenties, was able to tear himself away, through merit and education, from the ghetto city where he grew up, on the outskirts of Marseille. His return for the holidays looks like a Roman triumph. Family and friends stuck at the foot of the towers applaud him as if he were some sort of isolated miracle. Almost a foreigner, already… When Sofiane's brother, a little local boss, is assassinated in the middle of the street, the pretty tale breaks out. To "mourn", the young man decides to stay. He wants to understand, to take revenge. To meddle, therefore, with what no longer concerns him. Very quickly, the "social elevator" picks up and plunges straight into pure tragedy.
Director Karim Dridi, who, after Bye-bye and Khamsa, describes for the third time a resolutely anti-folk Marseille, is a great lover of Ken Loach. The influence of the master is everywhere. In the vibrant desire to approach the truth of a social fatality. In the choice of a casting almost entirely made up of non-professionals, whose presence bursts the screen - special mention to Foued Nabba, chilling calm as a little local "godfather" ... In Arabic, chouf means "look", but also designates the lookouts, often terribly young, who make sure, in the neighborhoods, that the police will not come to disturb the traffic. Drugs, heavy weapons and devastated lives: with this film, which mixes an almost documentary roughness with the darkness of the thriller, Karim Dridi takes violence out of the column of news items to restore all his disturbing humanity. - Cecile Mury