"The Miracle of the Unknown Saint", bled runner

It takes a whole village to make a film: brought together by the Cannes program, Bacurau and the Miracle of the unknown saint by Alaa Eddine Aljem, presented on the first day of Critics' Week, take as a backdrop and narrative structure the alleys and surroundings of small towns lost in the desert. But the bled of this first Moroccan feature film seems out of the ground by miracle, built and populated at full speed in the interval between the prologue of the film and the beginning of its choral plot. Before: A thug flees the police in the middle of nowhere sand, finding the time to bury his money at the top of a hill before being thrown in prison. After: looking for the location of the booty after its release, our man discovers a mausoleum in tribute "To the unknown saint" of the title, maintained and cherished by the inhabitants of the hamlet built in the meantime at the bottom of the dune.

The tomb they worship contains the treasure that the thug will have trouble exhuming, the place being under the constant surveillance of a gallery of zany characters, all of whom will be torn between faith, boredom and greed: we meet the guardian of the temple and his beloved dog, the new doctor of the village, his placid nurse and his idle patients, a young farmer with depressive father, contemplating the fields abandoned by the recent urbanization of the place, among other local figures in search of meaning on the background of repeated miracles (because the saint, although unknown and non-existent, is prodigal in prodigies).

The fable begins well, as if it were going somewhere, precise and absurd, full of promises of uncertain if not doubtful significance. And if it goes somewhere, it is by a hundred paths more diverted than each other, each episode of the neighborhood adding a new setback to the frustration of the thief as to the perplexity of the spectator-exegete. This indecision is the main interest of the film, which plays on a constant disappointment, whose color it announces anyway by basing all its proximity mystique on a misunderstanding. The tone is clear, drawing something that reminds a little of the bodies dangling against the backdrop of heaven we love at Alain Guiraudie, and which contrasts with the vagueness of the general quest for belief and cash. Note (early generalization after reconciliation with the recent Mimosa Oliver Laxe) that in the cinema anyway, the Moroccan miracles are more fun than the Christian miracles to which many European masterpieces accustomed us, and if they are completely phony, this does not prevent Believe it, burlesque being for some time our only religion to all.

Luc Chessel

Critic's Week

The miracle of the unknown saint from Alaa Eddine Aljem, with Younes Bouab, Salah Bensalah, Bouchaib Essamak … 1 h 40.

(tagsToTranslate) Fable (t) Morocco (t) Cannes (t) Mystique (t) Feature film (s) Mausoleum (t) Doctor (t) Burlesque (t) Grave (s) Alain Guiraudie (t) Hamlet (t) Dune (t) Christianity (t) Faith (t) Nurse (t) Oliver Laxe (t) Be-Discarded (t) Week of Criticism (t) Dog (t) Odette and Édouard Bled (t) Belief (t) Exegesis (t) Sand (t) Olympiad

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