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also known as Les hommes libres

Free Men2011

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  • 4.2
In German-occupied Paris, a young unemployed Algerian named Younes (played by break-out star, Tahar Rahim) earns his living as a black marketeer. Arrested by the French police but given a chance to avoid jail, Younes agrees to spy on the Paris Mosque. The police suspect the Mosque authorities, including its rector Ben Ghabrit, of aiding Muslim Resistance agents and helping North African Jews by giving them false certificates. At the Mosque, Younes meets the Algerian singer Salim Halali, and is moved by Salim's beautiful voice and strong personality. When Younes discovers that Salim is Jewish, he stops collaborating with the police and gradually transforms from a politically ignorant immigrant into a fully-fledged freedom fighter.

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2 members like this review

A gripping film with plenty of suspense but that is a given with a bunch of damned Nazis (or the NSA) on your ass. Muslims protecting and rescuing Jews. In WWII Paris. So what up with all the anti-Semitic IslamoHatred? Algerians join the French Resistance to rescue Jews and Communists and orphans of Gestapo-arrested parents. Michael Lonsdale is outstanding as Si Kaddour Ben Ghrabrit, the poker-faced but wily diplomat who outwits the Nazis; Tahar Rahim as the similarly poker-faced hero Younes is a breakout star, and Mahmud Shalaby as Salim enchants with personality and song and a bit of mystery. Quite the different perspective on wartime Paris -- and on Islam.

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Member Reviews (13)

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An excellent movie, based on a true story, about Algerians in Vichy France trying to help communists and Jews escape Nazi persecution and death. The protagonist is a detached black market huckster who is gradually radicalized as he experiences the horror of Nazi crimes and the texture of French Muslim culture. He is particularly drawn to a Jew posing as a Muslim, a sultry man famous for his singing. There is a nominal love interest -- a passionate woman whose brother is in a Nazi camp -- but the main 'love story' is the friendship forged between the singer and the protagonist. This movie unfolds like an espionage thriller, but the characters are more nuanced and the scope much greater. A truly wonderful film with extraordinarily good music.

3 members like this review
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top reviewer

A gripping film with plenty of suspense but that is a given with a bunch of damned Nazis (or the NSA) on your ass. Muslims protecting and rescuing Jews. In WWII Paris. So what up with all the anti-Semitic IslamoHatred? Algerians join the French Resistance to rescue Jews and Communists and orphans of Gestapo-arrested parents. Michael Lonsdale is outstanding as Si Kaddour Ben Ghrabrit, the poker-faced but wily diplomat who outwits the Nazis; Tahar Rahim as the similarly poker-faced hero Younes is a breakout star, and Mahmud Shalaby as Salim enchants with personality and song and a bit of mystery. Quite the different perspective on wartime Paris -- and on Islam.

2 members like this review

Amazing. One of the things that I love about Fandor is the unusually high quality of the unique films that Fandor brings to us and Freeman is a great example. World War II Algiers, relations between the Muslim and Jewish commuity (mutual support) Great film . I truly enjoyed it.

1 member likes this review

What a wonderful look into a history I was completely unaware of. Compelling story with great acting and an incredible soundtrack. Definitely recommend.

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top reviewer

It is interesting to think about the ethnic groups, nation players in the film, in North Africa and Europe then, and 70 some odd years later -- how is power being wielded today, and what's changed, who are the free "men" today. Revisiting the history of Paris and Algiers, and the plight of some of the outsiders is really a great part of this film because it's all still relevant today, but did you probably have more people to trust and help you then? (Yes, there is a lot of alluding to the film Casablanca, and similar themes of loyalty). The film leaves the nature of Salim's and Younes' friendship pretty open to interpretation, but it was a deep bond to be sure. The music, singing and dancing in the film are gorgeous. I loved the tune about the Americans moving in, and the wives picking up bad habits. "OK, bye bye".

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top reviewer

A wonderful film that shows a slice of history that often is not covered in history classes. Even though this is an historical film, it tackles so many of the "hot button" issues of today--being gay in the Muslim world, the relationship between Jews and Muslims, life in Nazi occupied territories, the tension between Muslim immigrants from Africa and Europe, etc, etc. The film is well acted and opens a window into a time where enemies become friends, and intrigue is a normal part of daily life.

Very good and under-rated 2011 French film, written and directed by Ismaël Ferroukhi, which recounts the largely untold true story about the role that Algerian and other North African Muslims in Paris played in the French resistance and as the rescuers of Jews during the German occupation (1940-1944). , 'Free Men,' won the Radio-Canada Audience Award at the 2012 edition of the Cinéfranco film festival, and 2011 Santa Barbara International Film Festival Award for Best Foreign Film

Great...it was captivating from the beginning and very well acted...5 thumbs up for this one for sure!!

i loved it . . .

very good depiction of the times-thought very well done -lead characters cast very well.

A well crafted thinly fictionalized resistance account of Algerians fights Nazis in WWII France. Seems very timely in the news w. the store clerk saving

the Jews in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdot affair. It prefigures the Algerian war of independence.

I'm always moved by the people that sacrificed so much - often for strangers. This was a beautifully told story and it educated me (again) about some of the untold stories that happened during the Nazi invasion. It was especially poignant to see it today after what is happening in France at the moment.

it's a very good movie but it is not an LGBTQ movie!

Perhaps it was lost on your that Salim was a homosexual?