Friday, April 24, 2015

Movie with Abe: 24 Days

24 Days
Directed by Alexandre Arcady
Released April 24, 2015

Movies about true events can be made for a number of reasons. Some are designed to expose an event deemed to be important and necessary to be seen by the world, while others are merely to dramatize what happened to create a compelling story. “24 Days” is a blend of both, though the way its plot is introduced by Ruth Halimi (Zabou Breitman), designed as a cautionary tale about the evils of the modern world, suggests that this is something that was deemed crucial to be recreated on film so that it could be told to a large audience.

Ruth begins by telling the audience that she cannot believe that this happened to her, and details are gradually added to explain what it is that has so shocked and astonished her. It becomes imminently and devastatingly clear that her son Ilan (Syrus Shahidi) has been kidnapped when a ransom note and accompanying gruesome photo are received. As his abductors repeatedly contact Ruth and her ex-husband Didier (Pascal Elbé), little progress is made as the police advise the two of them not to give in to any of their demands and to treat their frequent and abrasive conversations as part of a negotiation.

There is a sense of dread that pervades the entire film, not because Ilan’s fate is uncertain – that seems all too determined by the opening scene – but because Ilan was abducted purely because he was Jewish. Initially written off as an obvious choice because his kidnappers presumed that a Jew would come from money, it is not difficult to realize that their brutal treatment of him – most of which is fortunately not shown but very much conveyed – is because of his religious background. Treating the case as a simple ransom abduction and not a larger hate crime represents a serious misevaluation of the situation.

It is hard to get past the extremely disturbing subject of this film. It is not one that merits or even asks for recognition of its acting since all the actors play either grieving family members or vicious kidnappers preying on them or taunting them into complying with their demands. Its non-narrative storytelling style works to a degree, filling in pieces of the sequence of events as it goes on, but this ultimately doesn’t serve as an extraordinarily effective piece worthwhile in its own right separate from the story it depicts.


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