Cannes, France —Audiences new to modern-day gang related international crime dramas could get a crash course in the genre from Tunisian-French writer/director Karim Dridi. The filmmaker checks off every violent trope right down to a shock ending that will seem oh-so-profound to the film’s targeted audience of urban youth.
“Chouf” means “look” in Arabic, and takes on the meaning of a lookout for the purposes of this formulaic waste of celluloid. The heading doesn’t have much to do with the Marseilles-set drama that takes place in an area of high-rise housing projects, but that’s beside the point. “Chouf” is an exploitation crime flick meant to send hearts racing for pubescent boys who dream of the thug life. Such fantasies of making fast money selling drugs in the company a bunch of predictably volatile thugs goes exactly as you would expect for good-kid-turned-bad Sofiane (Sofian Khammes).
Our not-so-gold-hearted protagonist visits his high-rise-living Muslim family in Marseilles while on summer vacation from college in Lyon. The family patriarch is a disciplinarian hard-ass for all the good it does for his ostensibly doomed sons. Naturally, Sofiane’s older brother runs with the local hoods that shoot him dead in the film’s first act. Rather than following through on the promise that his more educated mind seems fated for, 20-year-old Sofiane chooses to seek revenge instead. He joins up with his brother's gang of drug dealers. Evidently, the best thing college has taught Sofiane is how to run a drug operation like a McDonalds. Genius.
It’s an old saying, if you seek revenge dig two graves. There, I just saved you the two or three hours you might have wasted seeing this piece of cinematic garbage. Next.
Not Rated. 108 mins. (C-) (One star — out of five / no halves)
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