One day Zano (Romain Duris) suggests to his lover Naïma (Lubna Azabal) that they travel across France and Spain down to Algeria and discover the land their parents had to flee decades ago. Lost in the perils of immigration these two children of the diaspora defiantly take to the road with music as their only belonging. Seduced by freedom, they let Andalucia's vibrant sensuality engulf them-before they cross the Mediterranean. From one meeting to another, a techno beat to a flamenco rhythm, Zano and Naïma reconstruct - in reverse - the path of the exile.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
From one surprising scene to the next, Exiles is another Tony Gatlif film punctuated by music and driven by cultural insights. A nostalgia trip, a road movie with musical pit stops, a romance with hiccups, an adventure with a modest objective, the film is a journey that is symbolic as well as physical.
Perhaps less engaging than his other films, Exiles is nonetheless rewarding with its obtuse characterisations and terrific locations. The emotions that Gatlif tries to convey don't readily jump off the screen, mostly because he makes little attempt to build up our empathy with the young Zano (Romain Duris) who is searching for the ghosts of his family. His journey is entirely understandable: the trauma of fleeing their homeland creates powerful vibes. But with its weak focus in the first half, the film feels episodic and patchy.
As always, Gatlif's attention to the music is profound; and as their journey takes them through Spain to Algeria, the changing cultures are reflected through the music more than anything else. The notion of exiles is, of course, a topic of great interest to artists, and the essence of what it is to be an exile no matter where you are, is a common enough theme.
Both Duris and Lubna Azabal give vibrant performances, but it is the mood of the film that is its most powerful element.
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CAST: Romain Duris, Lubna Azabal, Leila Makhlouf, Habib Cheik, Zouhir Gacem
PRODUCER: Tony Gatlif
DIRECTOR: Tony Gatlif
SCRIPT: Tony Gatlif
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Céline Bozon
EDITOR: Monique Dartonne
MUSIC: Tony Gatlif, Delphine Mantoulet
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Brigitte Brassart
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Potential
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 30, 2004 (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth)