Die Welt (2013)

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Starting with an amusing, and accurate, critique of the second Transformers movie, Die Welt takes viewers along with the central character to soak up the atmosphere and look at the culture of modern Tunisia. It has humour, but it’s not a comedy drama. It feels quite natural for most of the runtime, but it’s certainly not cinema verite. It addresses some issues relevant to many young people around the world, but it’s not a deep and depressing smack around the face.

Abdelhamid Naouara plays Abdallah, a young man who works in a DVD store but dreams of getting away from Tunisia and making a good life for himself elsewhere. After a one night stand with a Dutch woman, that urge to get away and make something of his life starts to grow stronger and stronger. How he will make the first step, without any money or long-term plan, is the major stumbling block. And then a number of other stumbling blocks are just waiting for him after that.

Following Abdallah around as he mixes in his various groups (family, friends, respected elders), Die Welt shows the full range of influences on the young man and paints a surprisingly full and detailed picture, considering the broad strokes used and the relatively brief runtime. Viewers can see the number of influences on Abdallah and the pressures that have built up over the years, whether they come from obligations to help family or a desire to look good amongst friends.

The camera bounces around the streets of Tunisia, taking in plenty of little details and different characters. Director Alex Pistra, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Thijs Gloger and Abdallah Rezgui, keeps everything nicely balanced. There are moments that take a bit of time to show some traditional values in between the many scenes in which Abdallah stumbles through his life on his way to a destination he doesn’t really have planned, and there are moments that emphasise what Abdallah has in his life, even if he may not recognise anything good around him.

I can’t say that anyone in the cast was familiar to me, but they all did a good job. All in all, Die Welt was a really enjoyable film that focused on a particular place while dealing with issues of economy and culture that many people should be able to identify with. They’re shown in detail here as they relate to Tunisian people, but they relate to everyone, albeit in differing ways.

DIRECTOR:  ALEX PISTRA
WRITER: ALEX PISTRA, THIJS GLOGER, ABDALLAH REZGUI
STARS:ABDELHAMID NAOUARA, MOHSEN BEN HASSEN, RAHMA BEN HASSEN, ILSE HEUS, JUDITH VAN DER MEULEN
RUNTIME: 80 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: NETHERLANDS/TUNISIA

Film Rating: ★★★½☆

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