Semites of the world unite

By Azin Sadr & Alan Cho

We live in a highly volatile time precariously perched at the edge of conflict. The tiniest provocation in the form of sexuality, political ideology, religion can ignite a situation into irrevocable consequences. François Dupeyron has directed a movie offering us a more optimistic slice of life.

Set in Paris in the early 1960s, Monsieur Ibrahim is a film about compassion and the enduring human spirit during a time swept up in the thores of political change. Moses, a young Jewish boy, forms an unlikely relationship with an old Muslim shopkeeper. Their father-son bond they forge for themselves, ultimately encourages both to live life to the fullest.

Both Pierre Boulanger and Omar Sharif, who play Moses and Mr. Ibrahim, respecitvely, are outstanding. They are able to convey a tangible sense of love and compassion for each other. Not only do they lend a gravitas to their characters, but help deepen the other’s performance. Although the film does touch upon the characters’ religions, this is more than a story about two people from different religious backgrounds meeting. Instead, it goes deeper, revelling in the bond forged by two people, one young and lost and the other old and found, as they try to live their lives. Mr. Ibrahim teaches Moses about the ways of life, finding beauty even in the slums of Paris and how religion does not dictate who you can give your love and support to.

Allowing scenes to unfold without rushing an of the action or dialogue, it is obvious director François Dupeyron took his time with the film. The methodical pace in which the narrative unfolds, allows us to immerse us in the environments Moses inhabits, whether it be his father’s house and Paris. It also gives you time to read the subtitles!

Yet, there are times when the film drags in the wake of the methodical direction. Fortunately, an upbeat ’60s soundtrack bolsters the film above the occasional leaden moments found throughout the film. The narrative consistently carries smoothly through the entire film but ends when you least expect it.

This film is a touching and warm film exploring many important themes at a time when lessons of tolerance should be preached. Our world seems to be one unable to escape from the conflicts among us, but Monsieur Ibrahim teaches a lesson of hope and friendships that can surpass even the greatest of differences.

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