Outside the Law (UK - BD)
Our Marcus reviews this new French historical drama on Blu-ray disc...
Taking place between 1925 and 1962, Outside the Law focuses on the lives of three Algerian brothers in France. Set to the backdrop of the Algerian independence movement we see the three brothers, Saïd (Jamel Debbouze), Messaoud (Roschdy Zem)and Abdelkader (Sami Bouajila) as they try to live their lives in a country that’s mistreating its people. With differing views and techniques, we see the brothers fight in their own ways, both politically and criminally and watch the effects it has on their lives and their goals.
Outside the Law is a mixture of historical drama and to a degree, a mob movie. My knowledge on the historical backdrop was sketchy but from the opening few scenes director Rachid Bouchareb manages to personalise the events and even with the fairly quick jump in years early in the film, holds together the lives of these three brothers and shows us their growth and the shocking events they are part of.
Unfortunately for me this one turned into a bit of a slog to watch. The two and a quarter hour runtime wasn’t the fastest moving of dramas and even though I appreciated the attention to detail, there were some elements I felt were not explained enough and I found myself simply writing off the brothers' enemies as “the bad guys” as opposed to understanding their real motivations or opposing political views. The brothers themselves were a hard bunch to get behind as well, wavering morals and full on revolutionary tactics at times made it hard to follow what they stood for and how they hoped to achieve their goals. Of course this made for a much realer, grittier approach to the struggle but for me I wasn't too sure how I felt about this group of siblings after a while.
Outside the Law was by no means dull but I found my mind wandering in the second half and felt the slow build to the dramatic ending wasn’t strong enough to keep me locked in as much as I was in the first hour or so.
Outside the Law offers up a very clean sandy coloured transfer. There’s a good level of detail in characters' faces with wrinkles and stubble really showing off the clarity (there’s also a handful of characters whose pierced ear holes can be seen). The transfer has a mixed bag of black levels ranging from strikingly deep to a little hazy, especially in the night scenes and with a majority of the movie set in warm outdoor sunlight the 1080p presentation really has a lot to play with. Generally speaking there’s little to complain about with this transfer beyond the fact it’s quite samey throughout despite the multiple locations and the forty odd year time frame.
In an early scene in the film the DTS-HD Master Audio track gets its first chance to shine. Starting with the chants “Free Algeria” from a protesting crowd filing the speakers, this is met with growing gunfire and a very realistic sounding attack. Rattling bullets, echoing gunfire and a bassy score really sell the visuals and there’s a ricochet off of a metal plate that sounds like it’s in the room.
For the rest of the movie, the score is used sparingly but every time it comes back around it adds a lot of emotional weight to the film and beyond the sharp, crisp dialogue there’s a nice level of atmospheric sounds in and around the locations to really fill out the track.
The making of (26:18 HD) gave me a whole lot of background to the film. Being a sequel of sorts to WWII set Days of Glory, Outside the Law continues the story of immigration in France but this time post 1945. Beyond that there’s a nice look at the recreating the era and the enjoyment that was had in doing that. It’s a nice mix of on set footage, some interviews and a little bit more history and gives a good overview to the project.
‘Interview with Rachid Bouchareb’ (11:47 HD) is relatively short but gets straight to the point and offers up the director's approach to the project and its development and rounding up we have the trailer (01:23 SD).
Outside the Law is a solid historical drama of an era I wasn’t all that knowledgeable on. Telling the story in an almost mobster movie approach enabled a lot of the information to be delivered in a different way but that said I’m still a little lost of some specifics. The film looks great in HD and Rachid Bouchareb’s work really gets a chance to shine. The extras are also a nice extension to the film itself so overall this is a pretty good release.
* Note: The below images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 29th August 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 French, LPCM Stereo 2.0 French
Extras: Making of, Interview with Rachid Bouchareb , Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Rachid Bouchareb
Cast: Jamel Debbouze, Roschdy Zem, Sami Bouajila
Genre: Crime, Drama and War
Length: 138 minutes
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