Review: Divine Wind
by Carlota Moseguí
- TORONTO 2018: Algerian director Merzak Allouache directs his most political film to date, about a pair of Daesh terrorists preparing an attack on an Algerian oil refinery
The Toronto Film Festival hosted the world premiere of the new film by Algerian director Merzak Allouache in the Masters section. Divine Wind tells the story of two Daesh terrorists preparing an attack on an Algerian oil refinery. The fiction film follows this kamikaze duo's psychological journey by concentrating on their existential doubts and what the mission awakens in them, from their first meeting to the night before the attack.
The plot of Divine Wind, emphasised by Mohamed Laggoune's powerful black and white photography, takes place almost entirely indoors, in the suffocating interior of a house lost in the middle of the Sahara Desert, not far from the city of Timimoun. This is where Armine (Mohamed Oughlis) is staying while he awaits the arrival of his superior: a mysterious Syrian woman called Nour (Sarah Layssac) who has lost all ability to empathise.
Nour lays down the rules from the get-go, treating Armine as a low-ranking soldier. However, as the days pass, between the four walls of this secret base, and while they wait for other members of the Islamic State to bring them the explosives they need for their mission, the young man develops a dangerous fascination with his companion, an admiration that will turn into attraction, and which threatens to endanger the operation. However, Armine's doubts about the mission’s meaning only serve to further radicalise Nour's own behaviour and ideas.
In this film, probably one of the most political of his career, Merzak Allouache continues to explore the phenomenon of Islamist radicalisation that he started in his previous film, Investigating Paradise [+see also:
film profile], a documentary consisting of interviews with Muslims about their idea of paradise, and their faith, or lack thereof, in the idea that they would find the 72 virgins there after they die, as promised by the Koran. Both films, but Divine Wind in particular, reflect the director's preoccupation with and personal opinion on the sadly current issue of extremism and religious fanaticism within the Arab community.
(Translated from Spanish)
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