national police has plenty of experience with diplomats, but they are about to
get a crash course in Islamist terrorists—not that there is much difference
between the two. Unfortunately, a bad
case of mistaken identity puts an illegal economic immigrant on the run in
Laurent Nègre’s light-hearted Opération
screens today and tomorrow in Denver as a selection of J’Adore: Focus on French Language Cinema.
is a Moroccan passing for El Salvadoran passing for invisible. When his restauranteur boss Michel sticks him
in the cooler to avoid labor inspectors, the hard worker gamely complies. However, when the sleazy employer pushes him
too far, Saadi walks—straight into the kidnapping of UN Secretary General
Takahata. Being the profoundly wrong guy
in the wrong place, Saadi is roughly interrogated by the Swiss authorities
(better late than never, guys) and Takahata’s security specialist, Isako. She would be the one in the Emma Peel
half believing Saadi’s innocence, the Swiss browbeat him into impersonating the
real terrorist. Right, what could go
wrong with that plan? Fortunately, Isako
goes rogue to team up with the amateur infiltrator. Actually, Saadi thinks fairly well on his
feet for a put-upon schmuck, but he still has difficulty sussing out the evil
scheme big league Hassan expects him to implement.
follows in the tradition of the OSS 117 franchise,
but it is slightly less silly. For a
Swiss film featuring a lovable undocumented worker, it is also surprisingly
forthright in its depiction of terrorism.
For Hassan and his cohorts, it is not about jobs or social welfare. It’s all about Islam.
Bakhari has a likable screen charm and a nice, not too over the top flair for
physical comedy. The French-Cambodian
Elodie Yung (due to become internationally geek famous when the mercifully postponed
G. I. Joe sequel finally lurches into
theaters) brings plenty of action cred and an intriguing presence to the film
as Isako. Veteran Swiss actor Jean-Luc
Bideau sure hams it up though, as Michel.
Casablanca aims to please, while
presenting a portrait of a working class Muslim who rejects the violence of his
extremist co-religionists. Neither of
those are bad goals. There are also some
relatively clever developments in Nègre’s script, as a small bonus. Energetic and upbeat, Opération Casablanca should be a pleasant palate cleanser amongst
the more serious fare at the Denver Film Society’s J’Adore series. Handled internationally by The Yellow Affair,
it is worth checking out when it screens this afternoon (6/22) and tomorrow
Labels: J'Adore Focus on French Languasge Cinema '12, Swiss Cinema, Terrorism in film