Yep, the setting of this film sure is far from men. Far from anything, really. And yet, somehow children line up outside this small rural (the word doesn’t do justice to the isolation!) Algerian school, nestled between the bare Atlas mountains, where they are taught by their quiet, self-contained teacher.
But Algeria in 1954 is a dangerous place for anyone to be, even in this god-forsaken place. When Daru the teacher is coerced into assuming custody of Mohammed, an Arab villager accused of murder, the lines between jailer and prisoner dissolve and both are forced to make decisions. There’s lots of shooting and violence in this starkly beautiful setting. It’s based on a short story “The Guest” by Camus, and it felt deceptively like a Western, but with layers, just as you’d expect from a Camus story.