Djamel, a decade older, is ready with answers, understanding and anger when the trio face discrimination and isolation on their journey into adult life.
At a time when a worrying drift towards extremism – both the far right and Islamism – has been identified among sections of youth across Europe, La désintégration is topical indeed. The London suicide bombers of 2005 were, after all, British, and the youngest was just 19 – the risk of our compatriots withdrawing from society and into violence, however small, is real. This article in The Times a few days ago explored the topic.
At just 80 minutes' duration, La désintégration, which is set on the outskirts of Lille, inevitably feels somewhat slight. The storyline focuses mainly on Ali, a student struggling to find a work placement, and his family. His brother and mother are presented as wholly 'good', as is the local imam, while the quietly menacing Djamel is purely 'bad'. It can be incredibly controversial to show shades of grey on this topic, but as Homeland has demonstrated, it can be done.
It's a bit harsh, however, to compare a feature from a fairly new director to a multi-award-winning 12-part series, and La désintégration has much to recommend it, not least assured performances from an unknown cast. Philippe Faucon does well to shine a light on a community often ignored, or demonised, by the mainstream.
La désintégration will be released 15 February in the UK. It will be available as part of My French Film Festival for £1.65 until 17 February.