Friday, January 20, 2006

Le Grand Voyage

You'd think you're in for some serious sightseeing when the premise of the movie takes place primarily between two characters as they travel 3000 miles or so from France to Saudi Arabia, going through most of Europe - Italy, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, Turkey, before arriving in the Middle East. But this is not a tour, and there are no stopovers for soaking in the sights.

Reda's father is in his twilight years, and wishes to do the Haj. However, since walking and taking the mule is out of the question, he chooses to travel to Mecca by car. He can't drive, and therefore enlists the help of Reda, to his son's protest, to get him there in their broken down vehicle.

But Reda doesn't see the point of having him go along, when his dad could opt for the plane. He resents the idea of having put his personal life on hold for this pilgrimage he couldn't understand. And hence, we set off in this arduous journey with father and son, being not the best of pals.

The beauty of this movie is to witness the development of the father and son pair, the challenges they face, the weird people they meet, having to duke it out in varied weather conditions, and alternating rest stops between motels and sleeping in the car. We see an obvious generation gap in them trying to communicate to each other, the father trying to impose on his son, and the son trying to assert himself as an adult, but circumstances we see, reveal that Reda is quite a fish out of water. Through the many encounters, they actually team up quite well despite their differences.

It's perhaps quite apt to have this film released here last week to coincide with Hari Raya Haji, and having the opportunity to watch our protagonists join the other pilgrims in their Haj. The final scene in Mecca is truly a sight to behold, and you too would feel the claustraphobia and fear as Reda tries to hunt down his dad amongst the thousands of people congregating. The sights of Europe were perhaps deliberately not dwelled upon, so as to build up the anticipation of and focus on the final destination.

It certainly rang home the thought of telling and showing loved ones how much you appreciate them for who they are. Don't miss this, and yes, book early - I was pleasantly surprised that this evening's session was still a full house.

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