Korkoro: Tony Gatlif's Latest Drama About the Roma


Written and directed by Tony Gatlif
Lorber Films
Opens March 25, Cinema Village

Robust emotion and cultural detail offset slight plotting and characterizations in the based-on-actual-events Korkoro (translation: “Freedom”). The latest drama about Europe’s nomadic Roma from director Tony Gatlif (Latcho Drom, Exiles) concerns a band of gypsies who, in 1943 France, are hounded by occupying Nazis, collaborating local authorities, and a citizenry whose intolerance seemingly predates Third Reich rule. As in Gatlif’s prior work, his aesthetic choices most forcefully convey passions and fears: A frantic tracking shot of children running through the woods is set to urgent violins; clanking music heightens the anxiety of fleeing men; a timepiece seen dangling above train tracks symbolically foreshadows concentration-camp doom. The director’s depiction of his protagonists’ intimate customs—placing horses’ hooves in cloth bags to muffle their sounds or healing wounds with a balm made out of raw egg and cow dung—is similarly compelling. Such ethnographic specifics provide depth to a dramatically skimpy affair involving the clan’s relationship to a young orphan (Mathias Laliberté) and efforts to evade persecution with the help of an humane veterinarian (Marc Lavoine) and schoolteacher (Marie-Josée Croze). The plotting is two-dimensional, but in the tormented visage of Taloche (James Thiérrée)—a clichéd holy simpleton enlivened by irrepressible physicality—the film seethes with full-bodied fury and anguish.


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