Outside the Law

Film Review by Philip Concannon | 09 May 2011
Film title: Outside the Law
Director: Rachid Bouchareb
Starring: Jamel Debbouze, Roschdy Zem, Sami Bouajila, Bernard Blancan
Release date: 6 May
Certificate: 15

Much like his Oscar-nominated 2006 film Days of Glory, Rachid Bouchareb's Outside the Law gives us an Algerian perspective on key events in French history. This time, the battle for Algerian independence is seen through the eyes of three brothers (played by Jamel Debbouze, Roschdy Zem and Sami Bouajila), whose involvement in the National Liberation Front will see them risking their lives for their country's freedom, and even turning against each other when debating how far they should go for the cause.

When it's not busy reminding viewers of other, better films (one scene in particular feels like a direct lift from The Godfather), Outside the Law is a reasonably compelling drama. A little on the long side, it nonetheless keeps us involved in the deadly cat-and-mouse games between the Algerian freedom fighters and increasingly desperate police, and the performances from the reliable trio of lead actors are excellent. What the film lacks, however, is a distinctive sense of personality and flair, with Bouchareb's sturdy direction failing to hide the manipulative and formulaic nature of his often heavy-handed script.