Omar la fraise (presented in midnight session at the Cannes Film Festival) or the story of two nice, rather broken-armed thugs, under the sun of Algiers, told by the filmmaker Elias Belkeddar. Nothing new, but the chosen tone, that of comedy, sometimes dramatic, the phlegm and humor of the two characters played by Reda Kateb and Benoît Magimel win the day.

The first, known by the nickname of Omar the strawberry – because he operates like a dentist, it seems, or took revenge, as a child, by sticking needles in strawberries –, long hair and sunglasses, is an old-fashioned bandit. Sentenced in France and forced on the run in Algeria, he reunites with his old friend Roger, a deceptively easy-going tough guy. Both live on shenanigans and are bored, for lack of action, in their big house with its empty swimming pool.

The film begins with a funny scene where we see Omar and Roger walking in the desert talking, arriving in front of a 4×4 driven by Tuaregs, exchanging bags of drugs for money, without saying a word. Like everyday life !

The tone is set, quirky, wacky, with nods to Tarantino. Omar the strawberry continues on the same nonchalant register, even if violence smolders everywhere. Our two heroes seem a little tired but are bound by a solid friendship. Omar can’t stand his parents’ country of origin, dreams of camembert and red wine, while Roger, who likes this city, advises him to enjoy life, settle down and give up traffic. drug. So, between a few fighting scenes, they take the opportunity to blaze and pour the champagne in the nightclubs. A chance encounter with the beautiful Zorah (Meriem Amiar) will change the situation, transform Omar, open up new horizons for him. Is he able to trust, to surrender to the other? It is the romantic side of the film, which does not exclude violent scenes.

Trained in the school of the clip, where you have to be quick with the image and stick to the music, Elias Belkeddar (director of the video for “Disco Maghreb” by DJ Snake) follows the same path in his first film, which takes its rhythm to Sofiane Sadi’s dancing soundtrack. It’s like the long version of his short film, A Wedding Day, presented at Cannes in 2018. As a result, he takes the opportunity to return to the Climat de France city, a working-class district of Algiers, where gangs of kids are rampant. who play caïds. Omar takes them in affection. So much for the social snapshot of Algiers which suffers from a certain often distraught youth, left to fend for itself.

Halfway between a gangster movie and a dark comedy, Omar the Strawberry floats a bit to move from one register to another, but he is carried from one end to the other by a duo of accomplice actors who play the card of laughter and emotion. And it works !

Omar the Strawberry, in theaters May 24.