Drama | French with English subtitles | 84 minutes
Thirteen-year-old Ahmed becomes a follower of the radical Imam Youssouf, who preaches an extreme form of Islam. Ahmed scolds his mother for drinking alcohol and berates his sister for wearing revealing clothes. Ahmed obsesses over his ablutions, his prayers, and memorizing verses from the Koran. The person who is most compassionate towards Ahmed is Inés, his teacher. She helps him with his studies and getting by in school. But, following Islamic law, Ahmed refuses to shake her hand, is angered that she’ll be marrying a Jew, and teaching a class on musicalizing Islamic verses. Ahmed feels it’s all part of a plan to secularize and dilute Islam. With input from the Imam, Ahmed decides that Islamic law requires he eradicate Inés. This attempt fails and Ahmed is sent to a prison farm to rehabilitate. After he’s released, Ahmed is still committed to the holy killing of Inés. But will the attempt succeed this time? If not, how will Ahmed deal with his angry feelings towards Inés?on.
Why Stream This Film?
Dardennes’ films are very good at depicting the plight of marginalized inhabitants in industrialized Belgian cities. But in Young Ahmed, the film vividly and painfully shows the slow development of a 13-year-old secular boy into becoming an Islamic terrorist. Despite the compassionate efforts of his teacher, and enlightened Belgian correctional workers, Ahmed’s Islamic devotion may be fully formed. This is the basis of a film many have called a masterpiece.
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 59%
- Metacritic Score: 66
- Cannes Film Festival: Winner, Best Director (Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne); Nominated, Palme d’Or
- César Awards: Nominated, Best Foreign Film
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YOUNG AHMED might not have answers, but it asks pertinent questions and makes acute observations. Its ending is hopeful, yet open. It’s a wise and sensitive contribution to a timely debate.
It might be said that the Dardennes’ great theme is redemption, the belief that even the most benighted souls can find the way toward light, given the ineffable assistance of grace. YOUNG AHMED is an extraordinary masterpiece.
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