Director: Rachid Bouchareb
Writer: Olivier Lorelle
Cinematographer: Patrick Blossier A.F.C.
Starring: Jamel Debbouze, Samy Naceri, Roshdy Zem, Sami Bouajila, Bernard Blancan
Studio Info: The Weinstein Company/IFC Films, 120 mins.
The little-discussed plight of the ill-treated North African soldiers who valiently fought for the Allied Forces in WWII (and were subsequently denied the pensions to which they were rightfully entitled) is the topic of a new film by French-Algerian director Rachid Bouchareb. Days of Glory concerns itself with how the utter poverty young Algerians faced at home drove them to join the French military campaign against the Nazis. However, once recruited, the men—unsentimentally played by a quartet of actors including Amelie’s Jamel Debbouze—struggle to not let discriminatory treatment by the military brass quell their patriotism for the “Motherland.” Their resistance is bold and transformative in the face of not only institutional prejudice but also the bleak war which Bouchareb realistically and brutally—though not gorily—captures. The story arc, the actors’ competent intensity and the film’s depressing but true-to-life coda all make this a fine edition to the WWII canon of films, as well as a history lesson that’s both important and beneficial for us all to absorb.