An intriguing portrait of fundamentalism-torn modern Algeria, as a French woman searches for her missing fiance, “The Other World” jumps the rails in its last act as Gallic exoticism takes over from well-sketched reality. For much of its length, pic is on a level with writer-director Merzak Allouache’s memorable “Bab El-Oued City” (1994). It is still worth a look by fest programmers and ethnic TV buyers.
Yasmine (Marie Brahimi), daughter of Algerian immigrants, flies to Algiers with her notebook and Islamic garb, and is promptly informed, “It’s everyone for himself. Algeria’s been saved, so we’re told. What’s dead is dead, what’s alive is alive.” Setting off alone across a country where the military are still fighting fundamentalist guerrillas, she narrowly escapes one attack and finally locates Rachid (Nazim Boudjenah) in a weird desert community with hookers and fine French food. First hour is an often gripping look at the realities of modern Islam (“You can do anything you want, as long as it’s not in public,” says a soldier’s wife), before silliness takes over. Lensing in towns and deserts is sharp and flavorsome, and pacing and music are both agreeable.