Mille Mois / A Thousand Months (12A)

Written by Faouzi Bensaïdi and Emmanuelle Sardou, Directed by Faouzi Bensaïdi
Screening at FACT from 23rd July 2004

Reviewed by Adam Ford

Morocco, 1981. Against a backdrop of poverty and political upheaval, young Mehdi (Fouad Labied) struggles to rebuild his life following his father's imprisonment for organising a strike. He finds the adjustments very difficult, especially when his best friend dies in a car crash. With the holy month of Ramadan approaching, Mehdi must grow up fast and take on new responsibilities.

Whilst this sounds like an interesting premise, the director squanders it by being too self-consciously arty. In doing so he ignores such traditional yet integral parts of filmmaking such as having a plot, developing characters and moving the camera once in a while. Time after infuriating time, the viewer is unceremoniously dumped in the middle of a shot whilst the ‘action’ (for what it’s worth) gradually moves away. And whilst A Thousand Months has been billed as a comedy, there was not a single chortle to be had.

This defiantly mediocre film represents a tragic mishandling of what was potentially a good idea. In style it occasionally resembles a documentary, but then a full documentary on this troubled period of Moroccan history would have been far more engaging than this self-important waste of celluloid. Myself included, an audience of just three witnessed its FACT debut, and the two who presumably paid must have felt cheated of their fiver. Personally, I’m glad I only blew two hours.