Dir: Ismaël Ferroukhi|France|2011|99 mins|12A
Rising star Tahar Rahim leads this tense historical drama, set in a Paris mosque where during the WWII occupation, false papers were made to enable hundreds of Jews to evade capture.
Initially operating as a wheeler and dealer on the black market, Younges (Tahar Rahim) is recruited by the Secret Services to spy on the mosque. As he spends more time there he comes into the orbit of a deeply charismatic cabaret singer and a mysterious woman (Lubna Azabal Incendies), sparking Younges’ political awakening. This process is shepherded by Si Kaddour Ben Ghabrit, the rector of the mosque who is engaged in a game of tightrope diplomacy with Nazi officers, and is played by Michael Lonsdale with a similar sage gravitas as he displayed as a monk in Of Gods and Men.
Many accolades have been heaped on the young actor (a young Robert De Niro, anyone?), and if the role of a young naïf who grows before our eyes into a leader (A Prophet, Black Gold) is becoming Rahim’s stock-in-trade, that’s fine by us - it’s an arc he conveys with panache. As a little-known true story of Muslim agents who fought for the French Resistance Free Men explores a fascinating historical moment with confidence and an old fashioned sense of storytelling.
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