Review by Liam McGarry
Nothing. Day after day, nothing. No Job, no girlfriend, no prospects; a drug dealing best friend and a family that won’t get off your back. Karim is a Moroccan immigrant living in Montreal; he spends most of his time hanging around with his best friend J-P, selling pot around their local park and killing time until he has to return to his strict Muslim family. A feature debut by Onur Karaman, the film is a slow-paced and offbeat comedy drama that explores the surrealism, the drama and the futility of Karim’s life in his French Canadian suburb.
Intendedly as unmotivated and meaningless as its main characters at times, the film nonetheless has difficult and powerfully emotional scenes as the vices and laziness of Karim’s lifestyle clash with the pride and expectations of his family. Karim is a young man torn between his adopted culture and his Moroccan heritage, feeling out-of-place in both his family and in Quebecois society. Onur Karaman himself comes from a Turkish heritage, and this life experience is clearly seen in the authenticity of the behaviour portrayed by Karim and his Family.
The photography is beautiful and subtle, drifting off at times to display soft warm sunlight and the stillness of Karim’s quiet neighbourhood. Slow and measured frames convey the sense of calm and tranquillity flowing through the boys and their customers as they smoke and listen to whatever drowns out the calmness and dullness of the streets outside.
The acting is believable, even to the point that it is hard to like Karim and J.P. when we first meet them. This is due to their initially obnoxious personalities and constant squabbling, but through the progression of the story as well as their developing friendship with relatively agreeable customer Juan, we are shown a deeper and more understandably distant Karim. The main characters act like rebellious teenagers; hanging out in the park, smoking weed, fighting, and endlessly barraging each other as well as those around them with harmless, though offensive insults.
For me, whether I liked the characters didn’t seem to matter by the end, but for some, the coarse language, and antisocial attitudes of Karim and J-P may hurt the dramatic tension and ultimately the enjoyability of this film. The swearing however, and the racial stereotyping and prejudice is necessary however, as it reflects the behaviour and attitudes of how a pot dealer and his unemployed friend would likely have.
This is a smooth and dreamlike experience, at times philosophical and others crass and offensive. The two main characters drift through their lives, unmotivated and seemingly complacent as Karim struggles to find meaning in his adopted country. Karaman gives us a mellow, and at times bizarre and existential look at his young and disillusioned leads, letting the viewer relax and take it all in.