Directed by: Nadir Moknèche | 113 minutes | drama | Actors: Lubna Azabal, Biyouna, Nadia Kaci, Jalil Naciri, Abbes Zahmani, Florence Giorgetti, Lounès Tazairt, Akim Isker, Fawzi B. Saichi, Serge Avedikian
Algeria has a turbulent history. After years of French colonization and hard-fought independence, the terror of Islamic fundamentalists was met. In recent years, however, peace seems to have returned to the country because we don’t hear much about it anymore. Enter “Viva Laldjérie”. This film by director and globetrotter Nadir Moknèche tries to paint a picture of contemporary Algiers, its inhabitants and especially its women.
In “Viva Laldjérie” we meet mother Papicha and daughter Gouchem. They live in a room in a hotel, where mother suffers from a nostalgic longing for her artistic heyday and where daughter prepares for her lover, a one night stand or a game of billiards. We will never know exactly how this could have come about with this pair and that is really a loss. Because of this, “Viva Laldjérie” sometimes looks like a serial of which you missed the first episodes and that is therefore a bit difficult to understand.
Mother and daughter as well as neighbor Fifi are on the fringes of Algerian society. What the subculture in which they live looks like, slowly becomes clear in the course of the film. But how this relates to Algerian mainstream culture remains unclear, especially as the film hardly pays attention to the life of the ordinary Algerian. As a sketch of contemporary Algeria, this film is therefore only suitable for viewers who are already somewhat familiar with this society; they will also be able to better assess the position of both main characters.
A final flaw is the plot, which is divided into two storylines. The story of the mother seeking and finding her lost childhood is both compelling and compelling. The storyline about the daughter, the prostitute and the missing gun is very weak, especially because it contains quite a few unmotivated actions.
Although there are many complaints about this production, “Viva Laldjérie” did not end up being an annoying film. We get a glimpse into an unknown world, with nightclubs, a female visionary, beautiful and unsightly architecture and manners that are as fascinating as they are incomprehensible. It makes watching “Viva Laldjérie” like a walk through a strange city, where you don’t understand much about the culture, but where you can soak up the atmosphere to the full.