A wealth of metaphors and film influences overwhelm Hicham Lasri’s sophomore feature, “The End.” Extremely ambitious and striking in the details, this audacious, sure-to-be-controversial black-and-white pic set in a bleak, underpopulated Casablanca is constructed from a semi-absurdist narrative involving a hardass cop, hoodlums and a woman in chains. Pulling off a film this symbolic is always hard, and the helmer’s undeniable talents aren’t quite there yet. Confusing for those ignorant of Moroccan politics, “The End” can’t play at home, since insulting the monarchy is an offense, making scattered fests and VOD the final call.In the days before King Hassan II’s death in 1999, enigmatic Mikhi (Salah Ben Salah) is in love with Rita (Hanane Zouhdi), a mute woman kept in chains by her gangster brothers to safeguard her virginity. He’s protected by vicious police captain Daoud (Ismail Aboulkanater), who courts Mikhi’s handicapped widowed mom, Naima (Nadia Nizai). Presumably, the shackled Rita is a stand-in for Morocco itself, dominated by thugs resembling the “Clockwork Orange” gang. While the king is only mentioned, the critical tone is irrefutable. Several standout shots attest to Lasri’s accomplished hipster eye.
A La Prod, 2M production. (International sales: Insomnia, Paris.) Produced by Lamia Chraibi. Directed, written by Hicham Lasri.
Camera (B&W, widescreen), Maxime Alexandre; editor, Julien Foure; music, Mahamouni; production designers, Delphine de Casanove, David Bartex; costume designer, Meriem Laraki. Reviewed at Abu Dhabi Film Festival (New Horizons), Oct. 16, 2011. Running time: 107 MIN.
Ismail Aboulkanater, Sam Kanater, Salah Ben Salah, Hanane Zouhdi, Nadia Nizai, Malek Akhmiss.