Far from Men [Loin des Hommes] France JOURNEY Section
Set right at the start of the conflict between Algeria and France, which led eventually to France ceding independence to Algeria, in a remote village a teacher is tasked with taking another man to a nearby town to face trial for killing his cousin. This bleak two-hander is based on a story by Albert Camus, it is a study of how a relationship can develop from mistrust through to respect and finally friendship.
The two men, brilliantly played by Viggo Mortensen (the teacher) and Reda Kateb, cross the bleakest and most difficult terrain imaginable, the distance they have to travel in miles may not be that great, the distance they travel in emotion is huge.
Needless to say, a journey across terrain being contested by two armies, the guerilla army of the Algerians and the military might of the French, is not going to be a walk in the park. On top of that, the family of the man that has been killed are also out to find the killer and perforce, the two men have to become allies or die.
Part war film, part thriller, this film is also nearly a Western. Something about the music (Nick Cave and Warren Ellis) and the North African landscape create a strong sense of the traditional Western, though the story is far more complex, and there is no shoot-out with all baddies dead and the one good man still standing. The photography gives the whole film a sort of bleached out look, which heightens the bleakness of the drama.