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Algiers-Beirut: A Souvenir

Fabienne Babe and Georges Corraface stroll around Beirut, take in the Roman sights at Baalbek and discuss a bit of politics between sack time in "Algiers-Beirut: A Souvenir," a typical shoehorning of love, memory and angst in an exotic locale, so beloved of Gallic cinema.

Cast:
With: Fabienne Babe, Georges Corraface, H. Choutri. (French and Arabic dialogue)

Fabienne Babe and Georges Corraface stroll around Beirut, take in the Roman sights at Baalbek and discuss a bit of politics between sack time in “Algiers-Beirut: A Souvenir,” a typical shoehorning of love, memory and angst in an exotic locale, so beloved of Gallic cinema. Further undercut by a dismal perf from Babe, this is feeble fare from Algerian-born helmer Merzouk Allouache, known for the far more trenchant “Bab el-Oued City” (1994) and “Salut cousin!” ( 1996).

Laurence (Babe), a Franco-Lebanese journalist, returns to a Beirut she hardly recognizes after quitting the country at the start of the civil war in 1975. She soon bumps into Rachid (Corraface), a colleague she once knew in Algiers who fled his homeland and now works as a laborer at a printing press. By-the-numbers script follows their romance, the revelation of why Rachid is living in self-exile, and Laurence’s plans to cart him back to Paris.

The actors have everything but labels on their chests to signify what they stand for, and a subplot about one of Rachid’s friends (H. Choutri) who gets fresh with a hotel maid is typical of the film’s insistence on constructs rather than rounded characters. Corraface gives the cliched dialogue the old college try; Babe, prancing round in various eye-catching get-ups, is embarrassing. Tech credits are OK.

Algiers-Beirut: A Souvenir

French-Lebanese

Production: A CineTeve (France)/Djinn House Prods. (Lebanon) production, for La Sept/Arte. (International sales: France Television Distribution, Paris.) Produced by Fabienne Fab, Servain Schreiber. Executive producer, Joey Fare. Directed, written by Merzouk Allouache.

Crew: Camera (color), Laurent Machiel; editor, Claude Frechede; music, Rene-Marc Bini; sound, Adrien Nataf; assistant director, Laurent Laubier. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (Cineastes du Present), Aug. 9, 1998. Running time: 95 MIN.

With: With: Fabienne Babe, Georges Corraface, H. Choutri. (French and Arabic dialogue)

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