A newly divorced woman, her childhood sweetheart M’hamed and an expansive wheeler-dealer recently returned from America traverse the dusty trails of Tunisia in a white Cadillac convertible in Abdellatif Ben Ammar’s joyous and quirkily reflective road movie. Helmer excels at making characters resonate symbolically without clunky moralism, imbuing proceedings with a loose, unpretentious, extemporaneous feel. Pic’s go-with-the-flow ease, well-thesped character oddities and subtle surprises prove enjoyable, but may be too ephemeral to exert any real pull with non-fest auds.
Zeineb (Houyem Rassaa), on the run from a jealous husband who beats up everyone in his path, seeks liberation, not so much from her vengeful ex as from fear itself. Her boyfriend M’hamed (Ahmed Hafiene), meanwhile, hopes to escape his country’s provincialism. Promised work on a movie that would finance his emigration, he chases a caravan of location trucks that appear and disappear like mirages in the desert. He finally catches up with them only to emerge from a tent dressed as a soldier of Carthage, ghost of Tunisian splendors past. Together the travelers seek to learn how to survive in a land whose youth dream only of leaving it.