Economy of Drama: Our Review of ‘Young Ahmed’ on Blu-Ray

Posted in Blu-Ray/DVD, Movies by - June 21, 2020
Economy of Drama: Our Review of ‘Young Ahmed’ on Blu-Ray

There’s something to be said for getting to the point…

Young Ahmed is an intense affair from writer/director Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne that gets to the raw point of the power of extremism and how it can corrupt so easily.

Despite the desperate protestations of his single mother (Claire Bodson), a Muslim teenager (Idir Ben Addi) in a small Belgian town is being gradually radicalized into extremism. He winds up hatching a murderous plot targeting his beloved teacher (Myriem Akheddiou).

Traditional to the style that we’ve grown accustom to with the Dardenne Brothers; Young Ahmed simply oozes with empathy and emotion as we see a young man who needs to walk himself to the brink of tragedy to realize the wrong turns that he’s taken in life.

Their style is never flashy; it’s instead reserved and incredibly humanistic as they take on the journey of a young boy, without a father being conditioned and radicalized in something that is supposed to give him comfort and solace.  It doesn’t take an broad strokes to the issues of religion that it tackles and allows us to have boots on the ground and the origins of religious radicalization wrapped up in a coming of age story which just makes it all the more tragic and compelling.  It all comes together beautifully thanks to a performance from a first time performer that is honest and raw.

Idir Ben Addi in his first ever role as Ahmed just exudes such honesty on the screen that you can’t help but look away.  His naiveté to the world (not only of action but in general) is why this movie works as well as it does.  Most of the cast is generally inexperienced in front of that camera and that’s what really allows the frenetic intensity but also the earnest morality of this tale where we see the struggles of a radicalized young man, who is also trying to figure out who he is as a man and that energy really does seep through the screen at every given moment.  Its rare directors who can get such genuine emotion out of non-actors but those Dardenne’s certainly qualify, it’s no wonder they won best director for this at Cannes.

The picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray is obviously top notch and the special features include an interesting interview with the Brothers Dardenne about the making of the film and what inspired the story.

Ultimately, Young Ahmed is quietly up there with some of the best work of these filmmaking brothers because it’s a film that has an economic essence to it that you can’t help but appreciate.  It’s a film about a young man at a crossroads that is far too common and one that most of us would have a hard time actually believing, that’s why it’s so effective.  Young Ahmed makes us feel the moments it’s living in.

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David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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