A resounding return for Ouassini Embarek
We had not seen Ouassini Embarek in a feature film since 2012, the year of release of Lost paradise by Eve Deboise. Ten years later, it is in Athena by Romain Gavras that he is making a comeback in this format, and seems to be making up for lost time with freewheeling performancedisplaying monumental nervousness and rage.
Whether Athena respects almost all the rules of classic tragedy (our review here), the film makes the impasse on that of verbal propriety, namely that in theory crude words and insults are banned from the show. A rule that does not observe at all Mokhtar, the older brother of Idir and caïd of the city Athena. Indeed, this one vomits insults and threats every time he speaks, obsessed with getting his drugs and guns out of the city.
In the actantial schema ofAthena, the three brothers do not have the same capital of empathy and do not have the same function. There’s Abdel (Dali Benssalah), who is basically good “ – even if he ends up tragically giving in to darkness. There is Karim (Sami Slimane), leader of the revolt but to whom we are attached. And finally Mokhtar, who is entirely the mean one “, a pure antagonist, selfish and psychotic. His performance is undoubtedly the most divisive of the film, some spectators considering that it does too much.
A nervous and psychotic antagonist (spoilers)
Like Abdel, he is a “big brother” in the city. But Mokhtar is this “big brother” who has not calmed down and who does not work at all to ease tensions. There are three moments in Athenathe last of which is fatal to him.
First, his character is exposed with his own sequence shot. He is in the apartment of his “nurse”, a neighbor who hides her drugs. Already pissed off and energized, he goes to the basement of the tower to try to get out of the city in an ambulance. But in vain, Karim and his “soldiers” have already blocked the exits. It is therefore on foot and armed that he crosses the city of Athena, uttering insults who dares to look at it, kicking to those who stand in his way.
Its second moment is a way of totally crazy monologue. He yells on the phone and insults his accomplices at the BAC who tell him that they won’t be able to get him out. Before also insulting his henchman whom he instructed to dig a hole. His anger and rage are at a staggering level. Finally, just after Karim’s death, for which he shows no feelings, he tries to rally Abdel to his cause. The latter, mad with sadness and rage, will then beat him to death. One can think, by way of comparison, of the stunning and unspeakable performance by Philippe Caubère in mobsters…
A tragic destiny therefore, also, like his three half-brothers – Mokhtar was born from a different father -. But that one cannot help but conceive as very deserved. In effect, perfect antagonista psychotic criminal from the exposure of his story arc to its denouement, he was very likely to die in Athenanot to say desirable…