“A son”, Tunisia without liver or law

The strength ofA son, the first feature by Tunisian Mehdi M. Barsaoui, is mainly due to the skill of his script, which manages to intertwine many social, political and moral questions in a single family drama. A Tunisian good society couple and their son are targeted by a group of terrorists whom they have the misfortune to meet on a deserted road; a stray bullet reaches the child, is seriously injured and requires a liver transplant. Knowing who will be the organ donor requires a revelation that will deeply affect the couple (his father is not his parent), in addition to causing a series of dilemmas and negotiations symptomatic of dysfunctions in Tunisian society: inequalities between classes, patriarchy, weight of religion, insufficient public services, cynical trafficking.


The tragedy of this well-to-do family brutally confronted with violence and corruption from which it was previously preserved resonates in a precise historical context – the story taking place in August and September 2011, a few months after the Arab Spring and the fall of the President. Ben Ali -, to demonstrate how an apparent political appeasement is not enough to cure an entire country of its ills, shortcomings and archaisms. The different ways of obtaining a liver to save the life of a child can then be perceived as so many ways of using the past to preserve the future, by prolonging the mischief or by exceeding them; by being truly modern and democratic or by behaving like a scoundrel for personal interest.

Formally fairly conventional, the film is rather effective when it is content with the facts, but becomes heavy as soon as it dwells on psychology or emotions. Bold accelerations or ellipses can succeed slow planes on the defeated faces and lost looks of the characters, emphasizing their dismay or their sadness with the help of unsubtle music.

Cruel fable

While saluting the relevance of the political allegory and the undeniable force of two or three scenes (those concerning the trafficking in children’s organs), it is thus regrettable thatA son stays within the limits of a good thesis film, never overflowing with what he seeks to demonstrate, by daring to venture neither on the side of melodrama nor that of the cruel fable that his script nevertheless contained in power.

Marcos Uzal

A son of Mehdi M. Barsaoui with Sami Bouajila, Najla Ben Abdallah, Youssef Khemiri… 1 h 32.


Rosto, rockers at work – Culture / Next

Subtitle “A trip rock from Rosto”, Thee Wreckers Tetralogy has the merit of bringing to light a form that has fallen into disuse: that of rock opera, a megalomaniac gesture by which a group stretches out of itself to give a graphic translation to its music.

Latex. The total work is precisely the ambition of the Dutchman Rosto, filmmaker, musician and author of comics who envisioned (he died in March 2019) his various practices as an extension of the same gesture. By suturing four short films made from 2008 to 2018 and a making-of, this feature film allows films by Rosto, a creature of festivals, to enter a more mainstream distribution circuit and to go beyond the audiences of Annecy and Clermont or type UFO broadcasts Mensomadaire.

In four acts and as many pieces, Thee Wreckers Tetralogy composes a sibylline fable, a kind ofStrange Christmas of Mister Jack for very depressed, in which there is a quartet of rockers in black suits and with oblong, fuzzy, crumpled and creepy faces. To the cathode layouts of No Place Like Home, where a man gets lost in the contemplation of his past by screens interposed in a room which rocks like a drunken boat, succeeds a run through a gray and anonymous city, reminiscence of the totalitarian expressionist metropolises and a deadly tour in hearse. More than the hymns with the false accents of Tom Waits, it is the plastic which sucks the ease with which Rosto summons various techniques into a baroque image. He combs his actors’ heads with giant latex heads, makes them shake before retracting their bodies or reshaping them in 3D.

References. On the screen is added the cartoon, transparency or overlay effects, when the film does not seem to pulsate like a lung. If this prolonged immersion can reassure a spectator immersed for the first time in this universe, on the contrary it can also cause a feeling of suffocation by letting too much appear the conscious or not references of Rosto (Marc Caro, Vaughan Oliver, Dave McKean ). The film already tends, by always seeking the strong image, to cannibalize itself, a plan chasing the other. Remains at the gates of boredom, we are mowed down by some flashes like this emergence of the final Super-8, very beautiful sequence at the Muybridge where a child multiplies while the film projected in a living room is cut and deformed bumping into furniture.

Marius Chapuis

THEE WRECKERS TETRALOGY of Rosto (1 h 10). Exhibition at Point éphémère (75010) from March 25 to 31.