Review: ‘17 Due Bleue’

A standout performance by Lysiane Meis, as a single, Franco-Algerian mom fighting for both her children and mental sanity, makes "17 rue Bleue" worth a look by quality TV buyers.

A standout performance by Lysiane Meis, as a single, Franco-Algerian mom fighting for both her children and mental sanity, makes “17 rue Bleue” worth a look by quality TV buyers. Though this autobiographical first feature by former thesp Chad Chenouga later descends into too much actorly exaggeration, pic draws an involving personal portrait of a period in France — the ’60s and ’70s — when French-Algerians tried to readjust to life in the “home” country.

It’s 1967, and Adda (Meis), pert and confident with her bobbed hairdo and colorful frocks, is in Paris with her two young sons, Chad and Samir, and younger sisters, Yasmine and Leila. When her married boss-cum-sugar daddy suddenly dies, Adda fights a long, punishing court case for a share of his loot, but slowly goes mental from her reliance on medicinal drugs, with the adolescent Chad (Abdel Halis) taking the brunt of caring for her. First hour or so is the best, with Meis terrific as a young woman who’s convinced of her rights and who, despite everything maintains a fragile feyness. Period detail is economically sketched, and Eric Guichard’s bright, colorful lensing a bonus.

17 Due Bleue

France

Production

A Quo Vadis Cinema production in association with Arte France Cinema and BFC Prods. (International sales: Celluloid Dreams, Paris.) Produced by Jerome Vidal. Directed by Chad Chenouga. Screenplay, Chenouga, Philippe Donzelot, Dominique Golfier.

Crew

Camera (color), Eric Guichard; editor, Marie-France Cuenot; music, Ahmet Gulbay, Chenouga; art director, Andre Fonsny; sound (DTS stereo), Cyril Moisson, Philippe Amouroux. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (Filmmakers of the Present), Aug. 5, 2001. Running time: 93 MIN.

With

Lysiane Meis, Abdel Halis, Aimen Ben Hamed, Nassim Sakhoui, Sofiane Abramovitz, Saida Jawad, Chafia Boudra.
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