Imagine visuals from a less disciplined, zero-budget episode of “The Office,” and the look of Rachid Djaidani’s “Hold Back” becomes clear. Renaissance man Djaidani (boxer, novelist, thesp, helmer) took a great subject — a French-Algerian woman wants to marry a black man, to the horror of her 40 brothers — and tried to put the pieces together after nine years and 200 hours of footage. The effort defeats him. Despite moments of humor, this unruly tyro effort exhibits all the signs of an unformed talent with hipster pretentions, reducing non-Gallic exposure to freshman-oriented fests.

When Slimane (Slimane Dazi) learns sis Sabrina (Sabrina Hamida) is tying the knot with Dorcy (Stephane Soo Mongo), an actor of sub-Saharan descent, he traverses Paris to alert their 40 brothers of the need to stop this tradition-busting affair. Most are up in arms over the perceived scandal of Arab-black miscegenation (rarely addressed in cinema), blithely revealing their predictably hypocritical attitudes. Queasily shifting lensing and hyper editing have difficulty finding anything to settle on, and extreme closeups are an empty, retro exercise in style. Subtitles on the Cannes print give the title its literal musical translation, “Refrain.”

Hold Back


  • Production: An Or production with the participation of Arte France Cinema. Produced by Rachid Djaidani. Directed, written by Rachid Djaidani.
  • Crew: Camera (color, DV), Djaidani, Karim El Dib, Julien Boeuf, Elamine Oumara; editors, Djaidani, Svetlana Vaynblat, Boeuf, El Dib; music, Steve Arguelles. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Directors' Fortnight), May 21, 2012. Running time: 78 MIN.
  • With: With: Slimane Dazi, Sabrina Hamida, Stephane Soo Mongo.