Le grand voyage | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Le grand voyage 

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Mismatched travel companions are a staple of the road movie, but the device has seldom been used to more resonant effect than in this piquant 2004 drama about an elderly French-Moroccan (Mohamed Majd) who drags his assimilated young son (Nicolas Cazale) on a pilgrimage to Mecca. As their home recedes in the rearview mirror, the old man tosses the kid's cell phone, hoping to prepare him for a spiritual awakening. Writer-director Ismael Ferroukhi obtained extraordinary access to locations in Saudi Arabia but shot much of the European footage on the sly, adding to the improvisatory mood as father and son stumble toward a better understanding of each other and what it means to be civilized. DVD projection; in French and Arabic with subtitles. 108 min. Facets Cinematheque.

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