'Chouf': a bitter plunge into Marseille's underworld

'Chouf': a bitter plunge into Marseille's underworld
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Is it possible to break the cycle and leave behind your tough suburb, your ‘quartier nord’ as they call it in Marseille? French director Karim Dridi poses the question in ‘Chouf’.

Meaning ‘look’ in north-African dialect ‘chouf’ is the name given to the young watchmen working for the drug dealers. At the age of ten, they earn as much as their fathers do.

Sofiane, played by Sofian Khammes, is lucky. He studies in Lyon and comes home for the holidays to visit his family. His brother Slim has become a drug dealer. When Slim is murdered, Sofiane decides to stay and find his killer.

After a brilliant opening scene, Karim Dridi, who himself lives in Marseille, plunges into the heart of the lawless northern suburbs of Marseille. It feels so true that even you, from the comfort of the cinema theatre, will feel ill at ease.

Dridi avoids the black-and-white Marseille clichés. He loves his characters, even the most unsavoury ones, most of whom are played by non-professional actors, which adds to the film’s authenticity. ‘Chouf’ is a bitter film, but that was to be expected.

Enjoy the movie, have a good week.