“FREE MEN” (“Les hommes libres”)
An Unexpected Friendship
Younes (Tahar Rahim) is an unemployed young Algerian living in German occupied Paris during World War II. The French police arrest him but give him a chance of not going to jail if he agrees to become a spy at the mosque in Paris. Authorities at the mosque are under suspicion of helping the Muslim Resistance Movement and North African Jews by granting them false certificates. While at the mosque, Younes meets Salim Halali, an Algerian Jewish singer (although he does not know that right away) and falls in love with his voice and admire his strength. However, when he discovers that Salim is Jewish, he ends his collaboration with the police and morphs into a politically ignorant immigrant and freedom fighter.
The focus here is on the transformation of Younes. I just wish that we had more facts as to if this really happened or not. Nonetheless the story is fascinating and the cinematography and music are wonderful. Because there is no evidence that the Muslims actually helped Jews (and it seems highly implausible that they did), I had the feeling that I was watching a fairy tale and that is too bad.