Cinema: “Deserts”, mystical western in the Rif

Faouzi Bensaïdi is a passionate person who spins metaphors whenever he talks about the seventh art

Cinema: “Deserts”, mystical western in the Rif

Faouzi Bensaïdi is a passionate person who spins metaphors whenever he talks about the seventh art. At the last Filmmakers' Fortnight, at the Cannes Film Festival, the Moroccan director readily admitted: he is often very demanding of his team, not to say intransigent. He apologized in pretty terms: “By burning my producers, I also enlighten my actors. » Then confessed with humility: “I would give my body and my life to shoot a shot. »

Faouzi Bensaïdi's latest film, Déserts, which is released in theaters this Wednesday, September 20, plays with codes and genres, bringing together two films in one. It begins as a road movie and slapstick comedy about debt collectors before transforming into a mystical, almost mythological western. It is first of all the story of two nickel-plated feet. Two clumsy guys in suits and ties, sort of Blues Brothers, responsible for forcing penniless shepherds to pay their debts. In the absence of money, a goat sometimes does the trick.

Faouzi Bensaïdi sets the tone from the opening scene. A road map flew away with the wind as the two men hold it on the side of a highway. In the wake of the protagonists, the filmmaker wants the spectators to accept being disoriented and taking side roads. From a small village on the mountainside to an unfinished hotel, we follow with joy their adventures in the arid landscapes of Morocco and the reprimands of their hierarchy when they do not respect their financial objectives.

The burlesque story bifurcates during a seemingly innocuous sequence. A car slides across the earth in a cloud of dust. The gaze is lost in the smoke. The film plunges into abstraction. “Giving letters of nobility to shots considered by the dominant cinematographic grammar as banal cutting shots is my formal and aesthetic commitment which joins the political commitment of the film. From the first to the second part of the film, we gradually move away from the noise of the world,” explains Faouzi Bensaïdi.

Now it is about following a fugitive's attempt to get his beloved back from the hands of an evil criminal in the middle of the rocky massifs where the two debt collectors also wander. The stories overlap. The magic happens.

The CinemaScope format chosen by the filmmaker invites meditative contemplation. Carried by exceptional photography, Déserts imprints itself on the retina like a dream. After Les Meutes, by Kamal Lazraq, released at the beginning of the summer, Faouzi Bensaïdi confirms the revival of Moroccan cinema.