Rock The Casbah: Movie Review
Cast: Omar Sharif, Morjana Alaoui, Nadine Labaki, Lubna Azabal, Hiam Abbas
Director: Laila Marrakchi
Once again, the mining of family squabbles forms the large part of this French-Moroccan family drama, centring on a clutch of sisters brought back together for a funeral.
Omar Sharif stars (briefly) as Moulay, the head of the clan, whose death precipitates the return of the family from disparate emotional corners to mourn his passing. But it's Sofia's return which causes the most flux within the dynamic; an actress, living in America, she's seen as a big star presence; however, that return brings out all manner of hidden secrets, nastiness and resentments among the clan.
Rock The Casbah is beautifully shot within its Moroccan confines; Sharif's prologue where he breaks the fourth wall in among some truly sumptuous surroundings sets the tone for the piece; shades offbeat irreverence, emotion and warmth. With his intonation that "my heart has always been a fragile thing", the death robs the film of a vital presence, even if his shadow is cast along upon proceedings.
Interestingly, Rock The Casbah is a curious experience, a mash of tones that doesn't really settle - and scenes of veracity and emotional warmth have the carpet ripped from under them by an undercut of off the cuff humour (Sofia's initial return and reunion with her father being the biggest casualty).
When the sisters are united on screen is really where the familial bond is best explored and the film finds its feet. It's predictable in places and engaging, but never really fully challenging as it explores the stereotypes of the women within this society.
All in all, Rock The Casbah has a warmth exuding in parts and is pleasant enough cinematic fare - but it could have done with more Sharif.