Even though it has almost been evacuated of the news, the religious fanaticism and its excesses remain a delicate issue, that of brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, standard-bearer of the social cinema of belgium, bring back to the forefront with their usual and always admirable attention to authenticity, in The young Ahmed.
The literature search that precedes the filming of each of the films of the Dardenne brothers makes this portrait of a young Arab-Belgian 13-year-old dark in radical islamism, rewarded by a prize of the mise en scene at Cannes, in 2019, which is even more shocking.
Difficult, indeed, to remain impassive in the face of the gestures and words of this kid, barely out of childhood, who marries the interpretations rigorously and misogynist of the Qur’an that he sends an imam fundamentalist.
Raised in a muslim family, yet modern and tolerant, Ahmed critical of their behaviour and refuses to shake the hand of his teacher, this unclean supporter of an islam of openness and that he will try to kill it without success.
This gesture will bring in a centre for young people radicalized, where, in particular through work on a farm, speakers will attempt with kindness to get it out of the fanaticism in which it is enclosed.
Questions without answers
In this respect, the scenario of the Dardenne poses more questions than it dares to answer. When we find Ahmed, he is already under the sway of the imam Youssef and pushes all the hands outstretched in his direction, even if the unconditional love of his mother and the soft eyes of a teenage girl met in the center test roughly its intransigence.
How is it done ? To each viewer his interpretation.
Out of nowhere, like several actors in the filmography of the filmmakers, the belgians, the young Idir Ben Addi slips with correctness in the skin of a teenager unyielding, almost cold at times, at the centre of all the scenes.
At his side, Myriem Akheddiou (educator) and Claire Bodson (mom) make it with brio and emotion to the distress of their characters.
Without being the more powerful of the filmography of the filmmakers who have two Palmes d’or under their belt, The young Ahmed was nevertheless to satisfy their fans after the mixed reception unique received by their previous film, The unknown girl.
A film by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne.
With Idir Ben Addi, Olivier Bonnaud and Myriem Akheddiou. The shows in Montreal and Quebec city.