Salut Cousin!

on February 21, 1997 by Ed Scheid
   Alilo (Gad Elmaleh) arrives in Paris from Algiers to retrieve a suitcase he must deliver back home. He stays with his worldly cousin Mok (Mess Hattou) in the noisy and crowded immigrant quarter of the city. Alilo is delayed after he loses the address of his contact. He becomes amazed at the freedom he encounters in Paris and how different the city is from his repressive homeland. Meanwhile, his cousin is continually scheming to escape the poverty of his immigrant life.
   Elmaleh is very engaging as the naive Alilo. Hattou is an effective contrast as the more sophisticated Mok. Director/co-writer Merzak Allouache has been an exile from Morocco since he made "Bab el-Oued City" (1994), a film about Moslem fundamentalism. His experiences give a complexity to "Salut Cousin!" The film also skillfully combines the humor of the two cousins' cultural clash and a strong sense of the isolation and desperation that Mok feels as an outsider in France. Starring Gad Elmaleh and Mess Hattou. Directed by Merzak Allouache. Written by Merzak Allouache and Caroline Thivel. Produced by Jacques Bidou. A Seventh Art release. Comedy/drama. French-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 100 min. Screened at the Cannes fest's Directors' Fortnight.
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