Algerian writer/director Chouikh's film - his first to be distributed in the UK - has the same mood of troubled humanity, and the same striking images and powerful performances as The Citadel (1988), though, if anything, the socio-political critique here is sharper. Myriam (Aouffen) embraces Amin (Abdou), a villager from a different ethnic grouping. This innocent affair has catastrophic consequences as the two families wage a war of words, and the conflict escalates to a point where only the 'wild women' of the nearby crumbling citadel, sheltering a loose community of outcasts, offer refuge or hope. As in The Citadel, the director makes scant allowance for Western audiences The nature of the co-existent ethnic groupings, for example, is less than clear. But one assumes he shares the consternation and dejection of one of the elders, who recognises the futility of an internal strife that threatens everyone in the symbolic despoliation of the water supply. More explicit is the role of the young and the women, whose openness and vulnerability is movingly contrasted with the folly of their elders and betters. Dark, passionate and fascinating.
Cast and crew