Combustible Celluloid
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With: Omar Sharif, Pierre Boulanger, Gilbert Melki, Isabelle Renauld, Lola Naymark, Anne Suarez, Mata Gabin, Céline Samie, Isabelle Adjani
Written by: François Dupeyron, based on a novel by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt
Directed by: François Dupeyron
MPAA Rating: R for some sexual content
Language: French, Turkish, with English subtitles
Running Time: 94
Date: 08/29/2003

Monsieur Ibrahim (2003)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Momo Mia

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

After decades of floundering in second-rate movies, Omar Sharif returns with two of his all-time best roles, in Hidalgo and in this French gem, Monsieur Ibrahim. As directed by Francois Dupeyron, Monsieur Ibrahim is not really a work of art; it's more like one of those glossy, feel-good Miramax films that go on to win Oscars. Still, it's deeply felt and deeply affecting. Sharif plays the title character, a 1960s Muslim storeowner who befriends -- and eventually adopts -- a hard-luck kid (Pierre Boulanger) whose depressed widower father abandons him. Told like many other coming-of age tales (My Life as a Dog, Empire of the Sun, etc.) we follow Momo's relatively unconnected adventures as he solicits his first prostitute, reads the Koran, listens to rock, flirts with a blond movie starlet who comes into the store, and buys a car with Ibrahim. Nevertheless, the episodic nature of the film allows us to gently understand the characters and also helps Dupeyron avoid too much of the obvious. By the time it ends, we are destined to remember Momo as fondly as we remember My Life as a Dog's Ingemar.

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