After getting busted for stealing a car, 15 year old Chérif (Zinedine Benchenine) is remanded into the custody of his aunt and uncle when he gets bitten by the bug to (more productively) start creating street art with the help of his cousin Thomas and a band of fellow taggers and artists.
Benchenine’s formidable performance carries the film throughout. The awkward and messy relationship between him and his potential girlfriend Wlodie (an equally great Chloe Lecerf) rings very true as Chérif makes all the wrong decisions in order to impress the first girl he’s likely ever been with. The gang of taggers known in the film as ORK are convincing in their misguided passion, making a series of bad decisions that lead to a life altering event for Chérif and one of the other film’s main characters.
If the film suffers in one area it’s through the very generic and formulaic use of the adult characters in the story. Chérif’s unlce is a simplistic bully, and his estranged father is a listless layabout with no ambition. It leaves the film with only one viewpoint: Chérif’s. And since he’s mostly directionless and starving to feed his new obsession, the film meanders uneasily to a close, leaving many of the audience’s questions unanswered. But the desire for those answers speaks to the effectiveness of Benchenine`s performance. The cast is definitely bringing more to this one than the material is. (Kirk Haviland)
Sunday, March 30th, 11:30am, The Royal