If, when watching a film set in an exotic, overseas country, you’re likely to experience a heightened case of wanderlust and pipe dreams of future adventures, then Homeland (Né Quelque Part) is guaranteed to please. But this film, by first-time director Mohamed Hamidi, has far more to offer than a new country to add to your bucket list.
The story follows 26-year-old Farid Hadji (Tewfik Jallab), the French-born son of Algerian parents, as he travels for the first time to his motherland, in order to save his family home from demolition. Farid has never been to Algeria, nor is he fluent in Arabic, and Jallab plays the role wonderfully alongside popular French-Moroccan comedian Jamel Debbouze, who stars as Farid’s lovably idiotic cousin. Debbouze breathes refreshing lightness and humour into the film, although his own character represents the plight of many young Algerians desperate to escape their ‘homeland’ for the idealised France.
The poignant screenplay co-written by the director and Alain-Michel Blanc, walks a fine line between drama and comedy, making it suitable for anyone who enjoys a ‘dramedy’ of surprising depth. A last minute addition to the Cannes line-up, the film is yet to win any major awards, but the cinematography is beautiful, of rugged hills and desert houses, and it offers a welcome insight into some very complex issues. The unfamiliar setting manages not to become alienating, thanks to a lively cast of endearing, if not slightly caricatured, local characters. This motley crew of townspeople lends a homeliness and humour to the film that is universally understood.
Despite ending on a bittersweet note that left a feeling of mild dissatisfaction, Homeland was nonetheless thought-provoking and enjoyable to watch. And now, there is a future holiday in the Algerian countryside that needs to be planned. Pass the couscous, please.
Words by Tahlia Nelson