FeversOriginal Title: Fièvres
Director: Hicham Ayouch
Morocco, France, United Arab Emirates, Qatar | French
Subtitles: Arabic, English
When 13-year old Benjamin’s mother goes to prison, the boy is sent to live with Karim, the father he never knew he had, a North African immigrant laborer living with his own parents in a sterile French suburban apartment block. Benjamin is sullen, profane and destructive, testing limits and rejecting any attempts at kindness or even contact by his father and grandmother. Karim’s father despises the boy, and for reasons not immediately revealed, seems to despise Karim as well. Benjamin wanders the streets, headphones clamped on his head to shut out the world, scrawling graffiti on the blank walls. He connects only with a free-spirited poet living in an abandoned trailer in the woods. An explosion is inevitable, and even if détente is reached, both father and son may be too damaged for a standard happy ending.
The film’s visual style alternates between wide shots of the stark, dehumanizing apartment buildings and tight close-ups that emphasize the charged emotion of the dialogue. The scenes between Karim, played by veteran French Algerian actor Slimane Dazi (best known for his portrayal of the gangster Lattrache in Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet) and young Didier Michon, making his film debut as Benjamin, are remarkable in their intensity. The two shared the best actor award at the Marrakech International Film Festival for their performances.