★★★★✩ Tough Cookie
Genre: Coming of age, Mediterranean cinema
Il était une fois dans l'Oued follows the lives of Johnny Leclerc and Yacine Sabri, two French boys who wish they could switch places. Yacine is an Algerian-Français who wants nothing else than to blend into white French society while Johnny is a purebred Norman-Français who wants to be Algerian. When Yacine's parents announce that the family will be visiting family back in Algeria, Johnny steals aboard the ship and joins the Sabris on a wild adventure. Over the course of the family vacation, Yacine struggles to bond with his family while Johnny adopts a fake Algerian identity, Abdul Bashir, and wreaks havoc.
Il était une fois dans l'Oued would appeal best to those who appreciate comedy, especially ridiculous humor. The film plays with reality and screws with the traditional Hollywood plot we're so accustomed to, so you can't take any turn of events too seriously (even if the characters break out into song and dance, or claim to be royal). Many may find Johnny's character frustrating in his countless attempts to make Algerian culture his own, but his overall ridiculousness will likely make up for his transgressions.
★★✩✩✩ Easygoing - ★★★★✩ Tough Cookie
See our "About" page for an overview of our difficulty ratings!
Like most mature French movies, Il état une fois dans l'Oued is fast-paced enough (and slang-dependent enough) that it ranks as a ★★★★✩ Tough Cookie. With the aid of French subtitles it becomes a slightly less exhaustive ★★★✩✩ Intermediate and can even be made into a relaxing ★★✩✩✩ Easygoing with English subtitles.
Watch Il était une fois dans l'Oued for free here!
Rent it on Amazon here!