The autobiographical dramatic film May Allah Bless France tells the story of Abd al Malik’s rise from teenage criminal to successful rapper while also exploring the Islamic religion as well as the livelihood of people living in ghetto neighborhoods in France. To someone who has limited interest in rap, religion, or visiting France, this was still a mildly interesting movie on a cultural comparison level. Fans of Malik might enjoy seeing his humble beginnings and the development of his music career.
Born Régis Fayette Mikano, Malik (portrayed by Marc Zinga in this movie) grew up in a poor neighborhood in France where police raids, drug deals, and death seemed to be frequent occurrences; similar to the poorer neighborhoods in America. In the opening scenes, the movie gets right to the gritty aspects of life in his neighborhood by showing police raids as Malik, his brother, and a couple of their friends are arrested for vandalism. A frank and heated discussion in the back of the police truck gives the audience an idea about the relationship between Malik, his cohorts, the police, and the country they call home.
When a death hits close to home (possibly multiple deaths based on a graphic at the funeral that was largely in French), Malik converts to Islam, adapts his new name to symbolize his desire to change his ways, and vows to quit the criminal activities and focus on his music. Several scenes are devoted to the development of his music, including a few where he is just walking down a road belting out new lyrics about his life or neighborhood.
The film features a monochromatic color scheme and a French language audio track with English subtitles. For those that oppose these elements, you can probably pass on this film. Some may choose to pass due to the religious overtones given the vast propaganda they may have been exposed to in their lifetime; I didn’t really see anything wrong with the religious aspect in this movie- it promotes love which is a common promotion of most religions as well as a common theme of the movie and some of Malik’s music presented in the film.
May Allah Bless France is a decent film from first time director Abd al Malik. There is fervor in his storytelling style (which may just be because it his life story) and he clearly has a fondness for certain aspects of his developmental years. All the actors were new to me and I thought they all played their parts believably- Marc Zinga did a stand up job portraying the man who was directing him (I imagine that could be a nerve racking position to be in, but none of it appeared in his character).