Monsieur Ibrahim François Dupeyron

Monsieur Ibrahim François Dupeyron
Far from your average coming-of-age film, Monsieur Ibrahim opens with our protagonist, a Parisian teen named Moses, breaking his piggy bank to get his cherry broken by a neighbourhood prostitute. Happy birthday! Moses is a lonely kid living with a depressed father, his mother and mythical older brother having left when he was a child. His only joys are being boinked by hookers — an activity that's treated as natural and sweet, because this isn't an American film — and being taught simple life lessons by the kindly local "Arab" (a Turk, actually), the film's namesake. To save money for the ladies, Moses learns to eat cheap, substituting his father's pâté with cat food, and so on. He also learns to smile, which sounds horribly sappy but in this film it's not. With the kind of rich, golden cinematography often employed in nostalgic films, the early '60s setting of Blue Street is vibrant, the freeform camera work is warm and intimate, and the daily activities of its characters feel real — only the very last scene seems overly cute and convenient. Adding depth but never overwhelming the simple story, there's a socio-political undercurrent in the increasingly paternal relationship between the Jewish boy and the Sufi Muslim man, who makes frequent references to "my Koran," inspiring Moses to consider converting. Above all, the movie is clinched by the stellar performances of then-15-year-old Pierre Boulanger, a very promising, very charismatic actor, and Omar Sharif, who came out of retirement to play Monsieur Ibrahim. Unfortunately, his feature-length commentary (the DVD's only special feature) is spotty and tepid since his titular role is essentially a supporting one, leaving him with little to say. (Columbia TriStar)