Of Gods and Men (2010, Xavier Beauvois)

French monks in Algeria, led by Lambert Wilson (Not on the Lips) but also featuring the great Michael Lonsdale and Philippe Laudenbach (Mon Oncle d’Amerique) with his big comedy eyes, hear that a civil war is brewing, have to decide whether to stay or leave. They provide a primary source of medical care for the locals and don’t want to abandon them, but it seems their lives may be in danger, despite a cautious truce with the Muslim militants. Faith is tested, fates are decided, and monks are kidnapped and murdered. Kind of a depressing movie, actually.

Ouch from D. Nowell-Smith in Film Quarterly: “Beauvois has managed to make a film about postcolonial Algeria in which it is French expatriates who are the victims; the 100,000-plus casualties of the civil war are, for the film’s purposes, incidental to the monks’ own suffering.” He also compares to White Material, a film from the same year about French nationals living in an ex-colony during civil war. “Of Gods and Men becomes a surprisingly feel-good film, at least for its audience of citizens of a European power whose invidious colonial past is thus suppressed under a cosy, but ultimately false, humanitarian warmth.”

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