Plot: IN THEATRES: MARCH 26, 2001 (NY)
First-time feature film director Abdel Kechiche's BLAME IT ON VOLTAIRE paints a moving portrait of an immigrant who searches to find a place in his newly adopted country. Jallel (Sami Bouajila) is a charming, well-intentioned Tunisian man who travels to Paris and secures a three-month residency by pretending to be an Algerian refugee. Once there, he finds a room at a local hostel, where he befriends Franck (Bruno Lochet), as well as a host of other friendly men. At a nearby bistro, he falls under the spell of Nassera (Aure Atika), a gorgeous waitress, and a friendship develops. Convincing her to marry him for citizenship's sake, Jallel is shocked on his wedding day when Nassera disappears. Destroyed by this turn of events, Jallel lands in a psychiatric hospital, where he meets the fragile Lucie (Elodie Bouchez). Eventually, he regains his health and confidence, and returns to the hostile. It isn't long before Lucie locates him, sparking a relationship that is at turns romantic, passionate, and deeply tumultuous. Kechiche's film is greatly enhanced by the outstanding performances of Bouajila, Bouchez, and Atika, who dive into their roles with a fervor that is supremely naturalistic and believable, making for a stellar directorial debut.
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