The King of Algiers (2023)

June 10th, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Elias Belkeddar | Cast: Reda Kateb, Benoit Magimel, Meriem Amiar, R’Mimez, Chahine Beriah, Mourad Khan

Benoit Magimel and Reda Kateb star in this artful crime caper as a couple of French gangsters on the run in Algiers.

Omar la Fraise (Kateb) has just received a 20 year prison sentence, and his only way of escape is retreating to Algeria where he hopes to lie low with his partner in crime Roger (Magimel in his louche comedy guise honed in Pacifiction and his third appearance at this year’s Cannes Film Festival).

The close friends take up residence in a palatial villa on the coast, and Omar – in the pretence of turning over a new leaf, takes a job in a pastry factory where he meets and falls for the feisty Samia (Amiar), providing the film with its most confident plot point: the classic case of a good woman falling for a felon and redeeming him through the power of her love. Omar and Roger’s crime story is less convincing – although the two make an amusing double act as hardened crims, although the extreme violence involved in their activities feels out of context in the otherwise light-hearted nature of this airy crowd-pleaser.

Often waxing lyrical Elias Belkeddar’s feature directorial debut plays out like an affectionate tribute to the town of Algiers, and we get a really soulful sense of the country through magnificent aerial views of the capital city and its surroundings (provided by Darius Khondji’s nephew Andre Chemetof), the camaraderie of the people and their strong attachment to music with a lively score by composer Sofiane Saidi. MT


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