Distributed by First Run Features, 630 Ninth Avenue, Suite 1213, New York, NY 10036; 212-243-0600
Directed by Hélier Cisterne
DVD , color, 88 min.
Jr. High - General Adult
Adolescents, Crime, Drama, Family Relations, Feature Films, Graffiti, Interpersonal Relations, Parenting, Teenagers
Date Entered: 04/02/2015Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA
Chérif, like many adolescents his age, is bored, increasingly unmanageable by his single mother and going nowhere fast in his small town. After committing a string of petty crimes, he is sent to live with relatives where he is enrolled in a vocational school. While reconnecting with his estranged Algerian father, beginning a construction job apprenticeship, and finding a girlfriend, Chérif also falls in with a gang of teenage taggers, led by his cousin Thomas. Sneaking out at night to spray paint walls, fences and overpasses, the clandestine young crew is in competition for wall space, police attention, and fearlessness from a lone, mysterious tagger known only as Vandal.
Set in Strasbourg, France, the plot follows a fairly standard coming-of-age formula. Cinematography and other technical elements are well executed. As Chérif, Zinedine Benchenine captures both the alienation of youth and the sometimes desperate need to belong. Made with the participation of European graffiti artists Lokiss, Pisko Logic, and Orka, the feature-length film has a gritty, urban look and feel that viewers with an interest in tagging and teenage angst may enjoy.