Cheb | Chicago Reader

Cheb

Rachid Bouchareb?s 1991 film is most interesting for its portrayal of conflicting cultures, as two products of liberal French society collide at every turn with Arab traditions. Young Merwan (Mourad Bounaas) and his girlfriend Malika (Nozha Kouadra) both grew up in France but find themselves in Algeria against their will; Merwan is drafted into the army but deserts, and Malika escapes from her family, which has been keeping her prisoner. The film effectively depicts their social dislocation as together they try to leave the country; neither of them speaks Arabic, and Malika must disguise herself as a boy to travel freely in rural Algeria. Effectively acted and filmed; the couple's plight is given added meaning by the vast desert that surrounds them.

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