Review: ‘The Lovers of Mogador’

"Lovers," a lush widescreen romantic costumer, offers a vision of colonialism that is as old-fashioned as pic's swelling music, bad French dubbing, sadistic thin-lipped villain, and Omar Sharif-lookalike hero. Helmer Souheil Benbarka is head of the CCM, but this wind-swept saga seems unlikely to spearhead a revival of the Moroccan film industry.

“Lovers,” a lush widescreen romantic costumer, offers a vision of colonialism that is as old-fashioned as pic’s swelling music, bad French dubbing, sadistic thin-lipped villain, and Omar Sharif-lookalike hero. The 1930s set piece, allegedly “based on a true story,” tenders a star-crossed alliance between an ultra-civilized Arab entrepreneur and a gently reared young Frenchwoman. Pic hits every cliche in the book, including pearls of wisdom from a kindly colonialist doctor thesped by the ubiquitous Max Von Sydow. Helmer Souheil Benbarka is head of the CCM (Centre Cinematographique Marocain), but this wind-swept saga seems unlikely to spearhead a revival of the struggling Moroccan film industry.

The lovely heroine (Violante Placido) braves the racist disapprobation of her friends and family, while her sensitive but dashing husband (Mahmoud Mahmoudi) seeks to assuage the hot-headedness of his rebel brother. Love triumphs: Even after hubby is impressed into the Foreign Legion, intrepid heroine rides to the rescue, flinging herself off a horse to give birth in a mountain pass en route. Thesping is uniformly histrionic on both sides of the colonial divide.

The Lovers of Mogador

Morocco

Production

A Dawliz Rabat, Casablanca, Poetiche Cinematografiche Rome production. Produced, directed by Souheil Benbarka. Screenplay, Bernard Stora, Benbarka.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Vittorio Bagnasco; editor, Fatima Darsi; music, Richard Horowitz, Sussan Deyhin. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (Cinema of Africa), Sept. 5, 2003. French, Arabic dialogue. Running time: 119 MIN.

With

Mahmoud Mahmoudi, Violante Placido, Max Von Sydow, Marie-Christine Barrault, Claude Rich.
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