Le Grand Voyage

"Excellent"

Le Grand Voyage Review


Imagine driving a rattletrap station wagon from France all the way to Saudi Arabia. Now that's what we'd call a grand voyage, and that's what Le Grand Voyage delivers, an extreme road trip unlike any other you've ever witnessed.

The elderly patriarch (Mohamed Majd) of a family of Muslim Moroccans who have resided in France for years has gotten it into his head that this is the perfect year for him to finally make his pilgrimage to the Hajj in Mecca. Because he's a subscriber to the theory that the journey is the reward, he decides that he must go by land, but since he knows it will be a tough trip, he demands that his 18-year-old son Réda (Nicolas Cazalé) drive him.

"Say what?" asks the shocked Réda (in French, of course). He's busy studying for exams and messing around with his girlfriend. Who has time for these silly superstitions? But loyal son that he is, he fills up the tank, and away they go, zooming through the night across France and Italy before entering the Balkans.

There is an almost total lack of communication between Réda and his father, and as the miles roll by, the big question is whether the intensity of the trip will forge a bond between them, a bond that is sorely lacking. At first, things look bleak. Réda, who does all the driving, is exhausted, cranky, and furious when his father refuses to stop for sightseeing, even as they pass Venice. Dad only sees the road ahead and says little other than "Keep driving" and "We'll stop here for the night." Sleeping in the car is fine with him.

In the spooky Balkans they find themselves confronting scary roadblocks, jittery soldiers, and an old crone who jumps in their car and wordlessly commands them to take her along to an unspecified destination (they later desert her in Zagreb). In Istanbul they pick up a friendly, fast-talking Turk who offers to come along and act as a guide, but can he be trusted? Réda doesn't think so.

On and on they go through Jordan and Syria, where Réda suddenly begins to feel the pull of his Islamic roots. France this is not, but by now the duo considers buying a live sheep and putting it in their back seat to eat later to be a fairly mundane occurrence.

The film's climax in Mecca is fascinating. Filmed during the Hajj, the scenes of multitudes of pilgrims arriving from every direction in flowing white robes are remarkable. Réda and Dad have hooked up with a merry band of Syrians by now, and although Réda doesn't attend the actual ceremonies, he can now see why the journey has been so important for his father. Perhaps he's finally growing up.

Nicolas Cazalé is one of France's finest young actors, intense, expressive and deeply moving in his role. (France gets Cazalé; we get Josh Hartnett and Ashton Kutcher.) This is his film, and he carries it with style. We get to experience not only the incredible sweeping scenery he sees along the way but also his intimate inner conflicts. Le Grand Voyage is a story told on both the largest and smallest scales. It's fascinating both ways.

Take a left at the light.



Le Grand Voyage

Facts and Figures

Run time: 108 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 24th November 2004

Distributed by: Pyramide Distribution

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Fresh: 5 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Ismaël Ferroukhi

Producer:

Starring: Nicolas Cazalé as Reda, Mohamed Majd as The Father

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Office Christmas Party Movie Review

Office Christmas Party Movie Review

Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman reunite with The Switch directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck...

Snowden Movie Review

Snowden Movie Review

Here's another remarkable biopic from Oliver Stone, who has used all-star casts and intensely pointed...

The Birth of a Nation Movie Review

The Birth of a Nation Movie Review

This true story from 19th century America feels eerily relevant today in its depiction of...

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Advertisement
Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.