Faouzi Bensaïdi / Belgium/France/Morocco / 2011 / 117 min
In North Africa, Morocco has been a modern symbol of relative strength and success. Its prosperity is owed to the tourism trade and the country’s Islamist awakening introduced a fixed (albeit contentious) religious core at the heart of new government. But droughts earlier this year and an overstretched budget have threatened to damage its economy, and fears over its future have alienated the working public, now stripped of job opportunities and adequate living conditions like citizens in so many other nations facing decline.
Faouzi Bensaïdi’s Death for Sale explains how these circumstances force impoverished and desperate Moroccans into theft and fraud, such as friends Malik, Soufiane and Allal who plan to rob a jewellery store in Tetouan. Malik’s story is the one we follow, as he tries to rescue Dounia from prostitution and escape the city with enough money to start afresh. Though all three men desire different outcomes, they’re brought together by a sense of entrapment from which they wish to escape. Freedom is the overriding theme and Bensaïdi uses his film to propose that a big-time heist is their only remaining option. Greater emphasis could be placed on how political corruption prevents progression and suffocates debate, but generally Bensaïdi builds tension through isolation well, depicting how the State pushes its citizens to the fringe of society.
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