'Far From Men' - Movie Review

Set in Algeria in the 1950s, a school teacher (Viggo Mortensen) is unwillingly made to take a military prisoner (Reda Kateb, whose character apparently killed his cousin with a billhook) from his back country school house a day's travel to the military outpost. What they don't bother to remind you of at all is that Algeria was right in the midst of a long and ugly rebellion against French rule at the time (and it definitely helps to know that). You're going to need subtitles: even if you speak French, a good portion of it is in Arabic(?). The movie in fact spends no time whatsoever on explanatory text, possibly less than I've ever encountered: you will discover who these people are by watching and learning, just as they learn about each other. In principle this is proper film-making: this is how life is. In practice I find I might prefer at least a little more explanation. My father, not known for praising movies or TV series, praised this one to the skies: he thought it was the best movie he'd seen in the past four years. I found it less enchanting than that, although well drawn and very well acted characters and a good story arc (which goes absolutely nowhere you thought it might) did make for a good movie.