Thanks to the demented actions of a few French terrorists, “24 Days” takes the Timing Award for the film you truly can’t miss if you want to be discuss the hot topic of the day, French anti-Semitism.
This is a movie you should see if you can, and it will give you a lot to think about. But don’t expect to enjoy the experience.
Closely based on a true story, “24 Days” tells of a young French Jewish man, Ilan Halimi, lured into a trap by kidnappers who target him in early 2006 because he is Jewish. Whether that decision was based on anti-Semitic hatred or anti-Semitic stereotyping (he must be rich because he’s Jewish!), what happens to Halimi is horrific.
Mercifully, the filmmakers spare us the violence porn of most of that abuse, focusing on the family members’ quiet suffering as they deal with a police force in denial that Halimi’s Jewishness has any importance in the case. Unfortunately, that endless suffering is too quiet.
Although “24 Days” is well made and features strong acting from Zabou Breitman and Pascal Elbe as the parents, the film doesn’t have enough of the actual victim to propel the drama. We’re left with a lot of scenes of people sitting in the police station or alone at home, answering the phone and listening to the inexplicably yo-yoing demands for money from the kidnappers. And, like the performance of the police squad on the case, the result is unsatisfying.
(Tickets are available for screenings Jan. 29 and 30 at Regal Atlantic Station and Feb. 16 at UA Tara but not for screenings Feb. 2, introduced by your friendly neighborhood Jewish Times editor, and Feb. 4; ajff.org.)
— Michael Jacobs