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).

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.

The Other World

France-Algeria

Production

A Lancelot Films (France)/Baya Films (Algeria) production, in association with Arte France Cinema, Canal Plus Horizons, We Aime El-Djazair, ENTV. (International sales: Films Distribution, Paris.) Produced by Christian Tison. Executive producer, Bachir Derrais. Directed, written by Merzak Allouache.

Crew

Camera (color), Georges Lechaptois, Francois Kuhnel; editor, Sylvie Gadmer; music, Gnawa Diffusion; costumes, Hamza Nassima. Reviewed at Montreal Film Festival (World Cinema), Aug. 31, 2001. French & Arabic dialogue. Running time: 97 MIN.

With

Marie Brahimi, Karim Bouaiche, Nazim Boudjenah, Michelle Moretti, Abdelkrim Bahloul.
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