×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Harem Of Madame Osmane

Taking a roundabout approach to the ills of modern Algeria, "The Harem of Madame Osmane" is an offbeat comedy revolving around an apartment building run by a former freedom fighter who vents her frustrations by manipulating other women. This first feature by Nadir Mokneche, lensed in Morocco due to the dangerous political situation in Algeria, breaks through a weak script to make a sobering statement about the ingrained values that limit human relationships.

With:
With: Carmen Maura, Biyouna, Myriam Amarouchene, Linda Slimani, Thamila Mesbah-Detraz, Nadia Kaci. (French dialogue)

Taking a roundabout approach to the ills of modern Algeria, “The Harem of Madame Osmane” is an offbeat comedy revolving around an apartment building run by a former freedom fighter who vents her frustrations by manipulating other women. This first feature by Nadir Mokneche, lensed in Morocco due to the dangerous political situation in Algeria, breaks through a weak script to make a sobering statement about the ingrained values that limit human relationships. In the currently desolate panorama of African cinema, the film stands out for its originality and should find considerable fest play this year.

Story is set in 1993 Algiers, when the first signs of civil war were appearing on streets patrolled by armed soldiers. In her corner house enclosed by high walls, Madame Osmane (Carmen Maura) is a comic tyrant, intent on controlling the lives of daughter Sakina (Linda Slimani), half-mad maid Meriem (Biyouna), French-born young wife Yasmine (Myriam Amarouchene) and a host of tenants.

Mokneche has difficulty controlling the farcical tone and broad humor of the overlong opening setup, marred by over-the-top shrieking from protags and mucho repetition. Viewers may also tire of the house setting, which far from being a harem is a prison created by the matriarch out of her fear of not seeming respectable without a man around. (Her beloved husband, also an ex-freedom fighter, is living in France with another woman.)

It comes as a relief when the women drive to a wedding party along the coast, where the chicly dressed Osmane manages to ruin Sakina’s engagement to her biology teacher by insulting his mother, a tattooed peasant woman. Yasmine is shocked to discover her husband has a second wife, a saucy redhead (Nadia Kaci).

In the general uproar, Osmane ferociously imposes her will, bringing on pic’s unexpectedly tragic but appropriate finale.

Held together by Maura’s strong central perf, which finds focus and intensity as the film proceeds, pic reveals many surprising sides to femme life in Algeria, from the women’s sexiness and freedom when they’re alone, to the traditional values they force on themselves. Tech work takes a back seat to the upfront perfs.

The Harem Of Madame Osmane

France - Spain - Morocco

Production: An Ocean Films release (in France) of a France 3 Cinema/Astoria Films/Canal Plus (France)/Tornasol Films/PHF Films (Spain)/Zilis Films (Morocco) production. (International sales: Art Box, Paris.) Produced by Didier Haudepin. Executive producer, Mohamed Ulad-Mohand. Co-producers, Gerardo Herrero, Sarah Halioua. Directed, written by Nadir Mokneche.

Crew: Camera (color), Helene Louvart; editor, Stephanie Mahet; production designer, Jacques Bufnoir; sound (Dolby DTS), Joaquim Pinto, Nathalie Vidal; associated producer, Mohamed Ulad-Mohand. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 16, 2000. Running time: 100 MIN.

With: With: Carmen Maura, Biyouna, Myriam Amarouchene, Linda Slimani, Thamila Mesbah-Detraz, Nadia Kaci. (French dialogue)

More Film

  • Us Movie

    'Us' Cements the Box Office Power of Jordan Peele

    Given the breakout success of “Get Out,” it’s no surprise audiences were salivating to see the next nightmare from the mind of writer-director Jordan Peele. “Get Out,” which landed a screenwriting Oscar for Peele, became one of the most profitable movies of 2017 (grossing $255 million globally on a $4.5 million budget) after the horror [...]

  • Box Office Film Placeholder

    China Box Office: Taiwan's 'More Than Blue' Wins Second Weekend

    Taiwanese melodrama, “More Than Blue” held strong at the Chinese box office, to secure a second week of success. The film is a Chinese-language remake of a Korean film from 2009, involving Singapore’s MM2 and the filmmaking arm of Fox Networks. With little in the way of strong, new competition, “blue” scored $27 million, according [...]

  • Noah CentineoNickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, Show,

    Kids’ Choice Awards 2019: JoJo Siwa, Noah Centineo Take on Bullying

    This year’s Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards was full of positivity and encouragement to be yourself. DJ Khaled, known for his upbeat mantras, hosted the 32nd annual awards ceremony alongside JoJo Siwa at USC’s Galen center. Siwa accepted the award for favorite social music star. Siwa said in her acceptance speech, “I get hated on every [...]

  • Us Scriptwriter and Film-maker Larry Cohen

    Larry Cohen, Cult Horror Writer-Director of 'It's Alive,' Dies at 77

    Larry Cohen, best known for his work as a B-movie producer and director in the ’70s and his later work in screenwriting, has died. He was 77. Cohen’s friend, actor and publicist Shade Rupe, confirmed the news, which was announced in a post to Cohen’s official Facebook page. Rupe said Cohen died in Los Angeles [...]

  • Captain Marvel

    Box Office: 'Captain Marvel' Shatters $900 Million Milestone

    Brie Larson’s “Captain Marvel” continues to do heroic business. In its latest box office milestone, the female-fronted superhero tentpole zoomed past $900 million in ticket sales worldwide. “Captain Marvel” brought in a mighty $87 million globally this weekend, including $52 million from international territories. It has now generated $589 million overseas for a global haul [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content