Cinema Review – Free Men
Out this week is the new film, Free Men, starring Tahir Rahim. Here are Teri’s thoughts on the film.
After the rather lacklustre Black Gold, I was really looking forward to seeing Tahar Rahim in something else, something I would hopefully enjoy and that would renew my love for the actor I saw, what feels like eons ago now, in A Prophet. With Free Men, I wasn’t disappointed.
Loosely based on fiction – and that’s very loosely – Free Men tells the story of Nazi-occupied France and its resistance fighters in the Arab communities during that time. The film focuses primarily on the character of Younes (Rahim) and his relationship with a young Jewish cabaret singer who is posing as a Muslim – as many people were said to have done during that time – to prevent arrest by the German occupancy. The undertones of homoeroticism in this relationship really create an intensity to the film which is captivating, highlighted particularly in scenes where Younes watches his friend perform. They’re beautiful scenes, and again I’m reminded that Rahim’s true talent really lies not necessarily in his delivery of speech, but what he delivers physically. He’s got a great onscreen presence.
Younes’ transition is not only romantic and (arguably) sexual, but political too – as a former black market trader turned protector of the North African Jewish community when he is approached to turn them in to the authorities, his story becomes a sort of coming of age tale where many veils are lifted. He is a quiet protagonist, but much of what he does and what he is is voyeuristic.
The only thing that brought Free Men down a half star for me was its pace – it’s a slow burner, and we get a peek in rather than a full-on reveal of what could have been had this story been genuinely fact-based. But Rahim is back on form, and Free Men is truly his film.
About The Author – Teri Williams
Teri is a former film student from Edinburgh and currently works in book publishing in London. She is a fan of bad taste films, horror, fantasy, science fiction and vintage teen comedy and has been described by her friends as a “proper nerd” and a human imdb. She can be found speaking nonsense under the twitter name @msenidcoleslaw and scribbling similar nonsense on her blog Enid’s Revenge
Have you seen this film? Are you a fan of Rahim? Comment below…