Saturday, September 17, 2011

Always Brando

Always Brando (Tunisia, 2011) directed by Ridha Behi, 84 minutes
September 16, 2011, AMC 10, 2:00pm 

The director Ridha Behi has a lifelong infatuation or love of the actor Marlon Brando. His encounter with the Tunisian actor Anis Raache, who resembles Brando, inspired a script for “the two Brandos.” 

In 2004, Behi got the script to Brando and the actor invited the director to his mansion on Mulholland Drive to discuss the project. Behi reworked the script but by the summer Brando had died.

Always Brando describes the direc­tor’s experience with Brando and alternates with the story of young Anis' (Raache) attempts to reach America in a post- 911 world as an Arab and Muslim.

An American film crew is shooting a film in their small town and Anis is sexually compromised by James (Christian Erickson), a rapacious American actor who promises both a visa and to cast Anis as a young Brando in a biopic once he reaches Hollywood.

Several elements disappoint: the production values are dispiritingly poor: the lighting, the costuming, the sets, the quality of the "film within a film". The acting is uneven and the idea of this man, Anis, passing for Brando when he can't even speak English is depressingly laughable. Maybe that's the point, how hopeless the dream is. How easily he is seduced and how quickly he turns on the people that really care for him. It all ends in tears.

 I would have preferred hearing the audiotapes of Brando speaking to Behi on various issues even if it was illustrated with stills or old footage than view this sad but cliched story of the penniless Arab who is literally screwed by his dreams of coming to America.

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