Migrant and Diasporic Cinema in Contemporary Europe

Migrant and Diasporic Cinema in Contemporary Europe

L’Esquive (The Dodge)

Abdellatif (Abdel) Kechiche(2003)


Genre: Coming-of-age story
Language: French, banlieue slang incorporating Arabic, Berber and Gypsy words

This film is available as a DVD in the Project Library at Royal Holloway, University of London

L'Esquive is the second film by Abdel Kechiche, the charismatic actor of Le Thé à la menthe in the mid-1980s. His first film, La Faute à Voltaire,L'Esquive, he focuses on the second (or third) generation of adolescent Maghrebi immigrants living in the banlieue, and in so doing revitalises the type of film which has become known as 'cinéma de banlieue'.  Instead of foregrounding the experiences of unemployed male youths, he uses the banlieue setting for a narrative of teenage romance combined with the putting on of a school play.  The teenagers in question are engaged in preparing a production of Marivaux' Game of Love and Chance, and timid Krimo, who falls for fellow schoolmate Lydia, persuades a friend to let him have his role as Arlequin to her Lisette as a way of expressing his feelings for her. Unfortunately, he is unable to do so successfully and is forced to abandon the role, and his hope of conquering the Lydia. The school play, though, thanks in particular to its two exuberant lead actresses (Lydia and friend Frida), is a success. The film addresses the problems of a young Tunisian immigrant arriving in Paris. 

The choice of text enables Kechiche to address questions of class, gender and place in French society, as well as to move between classic French and the fast and furious language of the banlieue adolescents, the expression of which is fundamental to the pleasures offered by the film, along with the performances by the young, mostly non-professional actors.  Although the film's narrative depicts the possibility of integration through the French education system, at least for its female leads, it does not shy away from including a scene to remind the spectator of the realities of racism (through a negative encounter between the teenagers and the police). The film was awarded a number of Césars in 2005, despite competition from A Very Long Engagement and Les Choristes, including Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay. 

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Last edited: 29 12 2006 - Designed by PageToScreen