The opening images of “One Man and His Cow” make you wonder if the Algerian Tourist Industry didn’t suggest images after a winter rain. “The north of Algeria has a temperate climate, which varies at the altitude. The coast has a pleasant Mediterranean climate, with hot and dry summers and mild and rainy winters.” I always pictured sand and desert.
The “One Man” is Fatah and “His Cow” is Jacqueline. We first meet Fatah, played by Fatsah Bouyahmed, as he tends a garden patch. He gathers his produce and walks a short distance to his home where his wife, Naïma asks the whereabouts of their red wedding blanket. Fatah professes not to know and enters the little one room barn where Jacqueline, his lone cow is stabled . . . and wearing a red wedding blanket. We quickly understand his loyalty. He turns on an electric fan and sits down and picks up an agricultural magazine to read and talks to Jacqueline. He is proud of his cow and dreams of showing her off at the yearly Agricultural Exhibition in Paris.
One Man and His Cow trailer – imdb.com/video/vi87996953
The adventure begins with the mail man arriving at the center of the village with a letters. Fatah stands out after the mailman announces letters for numerous men named Mohamed. Fatah also stands out in that his letter is from Paris. Fatah has no money, much like everyone else in the village, but everyone bands together and donates something for the journey. Soon Fatah is aboard a ferry, on his way to Marseilles and then he and Jacqueline hit the streets and begin walking to Paris, which is 410 miles away.
Fatah is open and friendly and people love him and Jacqueline. I enjoyed the bar room scene with Fatah getting drunk and performing “I Will Survive” with a local band. He didn’t realize that he was drinking hard liquor made from pears.
The next day Fatah loses track of Jacqueline while he prays for forgiveness. He tracks her down, where she’s stuck in the mud.
Fatah has no trouble making new friends. He is open, unassuming, and very friendly.
Fatah’s brother-in-law, played by Jamel Debbouze, living in France is told to help Fatah. He doesn’t want to, but finally joins the infectious supporters of the man and his cow.
A buddy film? An action adventure? A road movie? Fish out of water theme? A love story? A romantic comedy? All of those and more. At just under an hour and a half, the action never stops. Fatah is swept up in a protest . . . is interviewed on News TV . . . goes to jail . . . buys off a government employee . . . and arrives late for the Agricultural Exhibition. Haven’t we all done that?
Very good, solidly constructed Algerian-French cultural experience
Horror-yo4 October 2016
“This here is not a complacent review out to be over-enthusiastic about the Algerian-French phenomenon, but rather one that looks at the genuine quality of this very refreshing, honest, solidly crafted and well inspired contemporary comedy. The plot is simple, and it’s the adventure in the various places it takes the lead ‘Fatah’, the journey including the different people, sensitivities and emotions he discovers, the Algeria vs France contradictions and intrinsic antagonisms, and ultimately, his epiphany while being away from home in discovering more about himself from a newer perspective. The film overall is very well crafted, perfectly coherent and follows a very good rhythm. The jokes are good, the humor is lively and very culturally-charged and finally there are many little references/remarks/hints with implication and symbol that require a particular wit in understanding carefully laid throughout the playtime.”
“One Man and His Cow” is no Puyallup Fair (Washington State Fair), where I enjoyed seeing the animals as a youngster and as an adult, but it is a hoot. I highly recommend this wonderful comedy.
I found the video on Prime. For more information about the film, you can visit imdb.com.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.