A thirtyish Frenchman of Algerian descent struggles to find himself and his place in contempo France in “Andalucia.” Second feature by French-Senegalese helmer Alain Gomis explores themes similar to those addressed in his debut, “L’Afrance” — namely, loss of identity, sense of disenfranchisement, reactions to entrenched power and a quest for inner peace. Poetic, elliptical pic unfolds in short, sensuous stream-of-consciousness-like scenes that evoke an interior world of emotion and sensation. More interesting than broadly appealing, it should be welcome at international fests and events contemplating the politics of cultural identity.
Tall, gawky Yacine (Samir Guesmi, who bears a striking resemblance to John Turturro) has left his family home in the projects and lives in a small trailer. A social worker of sorts, he avoids taking a permanent job because he doesn’t want to get stuck in one place.
Snippets of info about his past surface via vivid memories and encounters with former friends. He wanders around the city at night, fascinated by ethnic music, soccer, the homeless and sightings of a mysterious woman he feels he knows.
In marked contrast to the banlieue films by other second-generation Frenchmen from immigrant backgrounds, which use conventional narrative styles and express feelings of estrangement through violence, Gomis calmly and assuredly employs experimental rhythms to interiorize his protag’s alienation.
Gomis drives home the point of how far he is from the rest of what his characters call “this fucking French cinema” with an amusing scene in which Yacine and his Senegalese buddies serve as extras in a big-budget costume drama about slave traders and slaves.
Pace lags a bit just before and during the surreal Spain-set ending. Dreamy HD lensing impresses with its visual inventiveness.