Saturday, March 24, 2012

Free Men

Tahar Rahim, the highly likable lead from 2009’s terrific “A Prophet,” returns in a World War II movie called “Free Men,” about a black-marketing Algerian Muslim in Paris who, when arrested, avoids jail by informing on a mosque believed to be harboring North African Jews and supplying them with counterfeit certificates. It’s a fascinating subculture, and Rahim holds the screen even given little to work with, but “Free Men” is one of those movies where everything of importance that happens in the world seems to happen to the handful of people we’re following. There’s too much coincidence and contrivance, not enough context or depth of character. A strong supporting performance by Michael Lonsdale as the mosque’s rector isn’t enough to elevate this minor material to the heights to which it aspires.

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