Maysa Moncao has been hitting the film festival circuit hard, this time at Tribeca. She sends back this review of the Viggo Mortensen drama Far From Men. Check out her LinkedIn profile for more and contact details.
What can happen when an experienced actor meets a young filmmaker who is open to new ideas?
Besides being able to speak French, Arabic and Spanish, Viggo Mortensen knows that less talk is a must in a movie. In a film about conflicts in the desert, dialogues can be saved and substituted by body language. That is the biggest contribution Viggo could have given to Far From Men.
After The Cut (2014), a movie that did not do so well on sales, a war in Algeria is the central plot in the production. Mortensen plays a teacher isolated in the desert, a man of principles and a former major in the Army, whose mission is to deliver an Algerian dissident to a tribal judgement.
Of course, the country is a no man’s land, where ethnic and religious conflicts rule everywhere. Man become prisoner and in order to survive he needs to choose a side in the war. That is not the case of Daru (Mortensen), hence this is his biggest obstacle.
The movie is a free adaptation of a Camus short tale, in which only the situation and the characters were preserved. Nick Cave wrote the soundtrack. By the way, Cave is constantly involved in scriptwritings and cinema (Lawless and Twenty Days On Earth).
In Far From Men, the original idea was to shoot in Algeria and catch the natural light of the desert, but it turned out to be unpracticle due to safety reasons. The solution was to fly to Morocco. The movie was shot in 8 weeks.
It was a difficult task to transfer the classical structure of a Western into a political and historic conflict, and obviously by doing so the director David Oelhoffen highlighted the moral and personal duties of the two main roles. In war times, getting hold onto your principles and values is a utopia. Finally, everything is reduced to the matter of how difficult and fragile it is to achieve a brotherhood feeling.
It touches a still a taboo topic in France: the war in Algeria launches a pletora of unsolved problems to the audience. The movie was shown in France for a short period of time, but it was relesed in Algeria too.
International distribution comes courtesy of Pathè.
FAR FROM MEN
FRANCE, NARRATIVE, 2015
SCREENWRITER DAVID OELHOFFEN
WITH VIGGO MORTENSEN, REDA KATEB
ABOUT THE FILMMAKER
Born in France, David Oelfhoffen has directed the short films “Le mur”, “Big Bang”, “En mon absence”, and the feature °In your wake”.