| February 22, 2015

Malika (Chaime Ben Acha) is the leader of her own punk band trying desperately to become a professional artist.  When she’s approached by a producer it seems like a big step, but she doesn’t have the money required to rent out a studio to record a demo.  Malika tries everything she can think of in her little slum neighborhood to raise the money, but she keeps coming up short.  This is until a man comes to her with a job to smuggle drugs into the country, promising to pay her more than enough to make her demo and maybe launch herself into a better life.

There are a lot of interesting things about this movie.  I like the Malika character most of the time, when she’s not being bland and apathetic about everything.  Once she takes the smuggling job, it forces her to grow up a bit and it’s interesting to see that shift in her character.  Her bond with fellow-smuggler Amal (Soufia Issami) helps facilitate this change, but the Amal character doesn’t have much going for her except for a few cliché back-story elements.  Their friendship feels forced and inorganic because Malika hasn’t really cared about anything except money and herself for the entire film.  When she starts acting selflessly on behalf of Amal, it comes out of nowhere and is confusing.

A lot of the beats in this movie feel out of place or otherwise forced.  Amal’s opening up to Malika after they’ve only known each other for a short time, Malika coincidentally stumbling into this job that will get her all this money, and Malika’s sudden breakdown after a fairly unexciting run-in with a cop all felt very strange.

I do like that the movie is not about Malika’s band at all.  That’s her motivation for doing these things, but I was really worried that I was going to be watching a movie about a bunch of teenagers trying to make it big in the music industry which doesn’t interest me much.  Then, I thought I was watching a con artist movie.  In one early scene, when Malika is trying to raise money, she solicits a man in a bar for prostitution.  The man gives her 1000 dollars (or whatever the money is in the movie) and tells her he’ll meet her outside.  She then of course takes off with the money.  This scene was completely unbelievable obviously, but for a brief moment it made me think I was going to be watching something akin to Showtime’s Shameless series, about a family of con artists living in squalor and trying to survive by any means necessary.  I definitely would have preferred an attempt at that style rather than the drug smuggling movie we ended up with.

Special features include behind-the-scenes footage and a bonus short film about Malika’s band trying to make a music video on the streets of Tangier.  Available on DVD from filmmovement on February 24.

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
Filed in: Video and DVD

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