> Volume 6 > Number 24


François Dupeyron

Omar Sharif
Pierre Boulanger
Gilbert Melki

Release: 5 Dec. 03

Monsieur Ibrahim


Monsieur Ibrahim, though set in the 1960s deals with an ever-present problem that is now getting its American remake: the racism towards Muslims. Sure, there’s been some integration in post-Mitterand France, but there’s still an element of hatred towards the Arabs filling the outskirts of Paris, their noticeably different customs and looks integral to their otherness and the revulsion sometimes coupled with foreigners. They are much like the Mexican immigrants in America, their true hope for a better life in the West, overshadowed by politicians who use their outsider status as a way to vilify them in charged electorate (case in point, the run-off election between Jacques Chirac and the extremely anti-Arab Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2002).

Ibrahim has the potential to deal with the beginnings of this odium, but it only glazes over its potential, instead turning to sugary sentimentality that somehow makes Rue Bleue’s prostitution as family-friendly as EuroDisney. The way the film couples its Jewish mischievous youth with its Sufi wizened elder should have been more than just a reworking of Kolya with a French accent. As the film dribbles into its well-photographed but empty finale outside Paris, the pangs of Contempt, complete with the wrecked red roadster, are mellow attempts at unattainable weight. French bildungsroman films might have forever been perfected by The 400 Blows, but for there to even be a consistent modern answer to Antoine Doinel, it’s going to have to be deeper and more captivating than the boring thematic drive of Monsieur Ibrahim

©2004, David Perry,, 11 June 2004