Razzia is a confusing and rather muddled state of affairs. Fair enough, it is presenting a set of challenging and confusing decisions with which its cast of characters must grapple. Thrusting the audience head-first into their lives though, makes it difficult to pick out significant links until the film is well underway.
The individual plot lines are great – substantial, emotional and engaging. There’s a teacher whose curriculum is censored; a young wife yearning for a job and lack of societal judgement, who is suppressed by her husband; a rudderless Jewish restaurant owner looking after his ailing father – and young man who wants to be the Moroccan Freddie Mercury (naturally). It is through the prism of these private struggles that Razzia deals with the challenging undercurrents of religious discrimination and economic instability. Double standards abound in an uncomfortable society, unsure of its identity beyond having been the setting of the classic movie phenomenon Casablanca.
Intense and passionate, Razzia draws you into its characters’ stories – but is also perplexes due to the seeming lack of connection between any of them. Some strands cross over near the end, but only very loosely. It’s not at all clear for at least the first hour that there are timeline leaps. Transitions are also clumsy, with storylines just dropped before Razzia veers off in a different direction with its next scene, or with voiceover from one character overlapping shots of another. These narrations are also rather pompous and unhelpful, perhaps there purely to add ‘gravitas’.
If Razzia’s sole purpose is to divorce itself from that romanticised concept of Casablanca courtesy of 1940s Hollywood, it absolutely does – it is eye-opening in its rawness and introduces interesting questions. It leaves many of them unresolved, however, consequently feeling unsure of its message.
CAST: Maryam Touzani, Arieh Worthalter, Amine Ennaji, Abdelilah Rachid
DIRECTOR: Nabil Ayouch
WRITERS: Nabil Ayouch, Maryam Touzani
SYNOPSIS: The streets of Casablanca provide the centerpiece for five separate narratives, which demonstrate a country – and culture – clashing with itself as the world changes.[TRAILER FORTHCOMING]