‘Good Luck Sam’ (‘Good Luck Algeria’): Film Review

This genre hybrid tells a loyal story of a French-born Algerian who tries to validate for a Winter Olympics as a cross-country skier for his father’s home country.

Though indeed a doubtful loyal story of how Algeria competed in a Winter Olympics in a cross-country skiing category, Good Luck Sam (Good Luck Algeria) is reduction a Maghrebi chronicle of Cool Runnings than an scrutiny of a struggles of flourishing adult between dual nations and cultures; a “Algerian” skier in doubt turns out to be a French-born, second-generation newcomer who grew adult in a Alps, speaks no Arabic and who hasn’t been to his father’s nation of birth for years.

Shorts executive and occasional actor Farid Bentoumi here transforms a story of his possess brother, Noureddine, into a fascinating hybrid of comedy and drama, newcomer story and loser sports film that, notwithstanding a infrequently informed stylings, is still distinct many other films out there. (Noureddine competed in a 2006 Turin Winter Olympics, nonetheless a film’s accurate timeframe isn’t pinned down.) Good Luck Sam  opened morally if not spectacularly in France in a swarming margin late Mar and should be of seductiveness to festivals that have no hang-ups about programming intelligent films with crowdpleasing elements. As an compensatory arthouse selling bonus, Luck is yet a doubt a many doubtful filmic mixture nonetheless that Belgium’s maestros of social-realist wretchedness and redemption, a Dardenne brothers, have been compared with as producers.

Samir (Sami Bouajila), or Sam for short, runs a tiny association that creates wooden skis in a shade of a Alps, together with a former French ski champion, Stephane Duval (Franck Gastambide), with a latter lending his name to a association for selling purposes, nonetheless his final attainment occurred during slightest a decade ago. When a vital understanding with a Swedish ski star falls through, a association falls on tough times, with a humorous go-getter Steph and a some-more critical Sam hatching a crazy devise to lift income to save a association from going broke and concurrently foster their higher products: have Sam attend in a Winter Olympics yet as an Algerian, given it would be many easier to validate given there’s no competition.

The film’s initial dual acts are roughly exclusively set in France and in French and camber several months, as a company’s problems go from bad to worse and afterwards Stephane has to manager and prep Sam, a fortysomething, for his Olympic gift rounds. From a get-go, it’s transparent that this is not usually an doubtful loser story or an against-all-odds sports film, with a lot of time clinging to Sam’s relations with Steph and generally his aged father (Bouchakor Chakor Djaltia) and profound wife, Bianca (Chiara Mastroianni), who is French-Italian.

But conjunction is a film a family play in a despotic clarity of a word, as it explores how opposite characters describe to a countries they’re from and Sam carrying to make a critical bid to bond with Algeria and a institutions, red fasten and locals (all a while vocalization usually a denunciation of a former oppressors). In a film’s final third, a pace, easily modulated by editor Jean-Christophe Bouzy, slows down extremely as Sam finally goes to Algeria for a day to revisit a hurtful inhabitant Olympic Committee, who should theoretically give him a training extend of $20,000 (which could save his company), and he also stop by a ancestral encampment of his proud, flag-waving father.

Far from a blazing automobile wrecks and augmenting radicalism of some of a French suburbs, Bentoumi follows in a footsteps of filmmakers such as Mohamed Hamidi (Homeland) and co-star and executive in his possess right Gastambide (Porn in a Hood, Pattaya), who demeanour during issues surrounding immigration by a some-more soft and permitted prism. However, nonetheless this doesn’t meant that Sam doesn’t face some formidable questions. The fascinating antithesis during a heart of a nimble screenplay, co-written by a executive with Noe Debré (who works on Audiard’s films) and Gaelle Macé (Number One Fan, Grand Central), is that a idea behind reconnecting with Sam’s Algerian roots as a sports figure is to save his company, participation and (future) family in France. A improved countenance of a duality fundamental in flourishing adult between dual cultures would be tough to find. That said, a doubt of land tenure behind in Algeria does momentarily bluster to steal a record before all is rather awkwardly ironed out.

Significantly, conjunction France nor Algeria are ever idealized. In Europe, small-time businesses are threatened by corporate decisions and banks are inhuman income machines, while in North Africa, Sam runs into apart cousins literally called Jihad and Ousama. This severely ups a altogether complexity of a film and anchors a wannabe athlete’s ripped loyalties in a tangible reality. Isabelle Dumas’s cinematography likewise has an eye for not over-idealizing a locations while also handling to keep a film from apropos a depressing, color-drained event (no tiny attainment given she’s sharpened possibly in a sleet or in a dull Maghreb, with Morocco substituting for Algeria).

French-Tunisian thespian Bouajila (Omar Killed Me, Days of Glory) is one of France’s best-kept behaving secrets and he here convincingly slinks into a cross-country skiing costume. Bouajila’s rapport with his business partner/trainer, mother and father are spiky and formidable yet carrying to review to preachy dialogue and he’s also physically convincing as a sports fan in early center age focussed on apropos an athlete. The actor reportedly did many of a skiing himself, with Noureddine Bentoumi functioning as a physique double in usually a few shots. 

Mastroianni’s impression is roughly an ideal associate yet also a tangible tellurian being, swapping between charity bedrock support and acquire if maybe upsetting existence checks. Her binational heritage, however, is some-more hinted during than indeed discussed or shown. And as Sam’s proud, realistic and nationalistic father, Djaltia’s impression functions in a identical way, charity regard as good as wisdom, like when suggests that a incomparable doubt of formation (in France) wasn’t as critical to him as simply charity his children some-more possibilities.

Production companies: Les Films Velvet, Les Films du fleuve, France 3 Cinema

Cast: Sami Bouajila, Franck Gastambide, Chiara Mastroianni, Helene Vincent, Bouchakor Chakor Djaltia, Coralie Avril, Fadila Belkebla

Director: Farid Bentoumi

Screenplay: Farid Bentoumi, Noe Debré, Gaelle Macé

Producer: Frederic Jouve

Co-producers: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne

Director of photography: Isabelle Dumas

Production designer: David Faivre

Costume designer: Melanie Gaulthier  

Editor: Jean-Christophe Bouzy

Music: Robin Foster

Casting: Antoine Carrard

Sales: Films Distribution


No rating, 91 minutes