Sound and Fury


Brainchild of Kamel Saleh and Akhenaton, leader of celebrated rap group IAM, The Magnet (Comme un Aimant) is more than another tale of B-boys en français. An engaging quasi documentary on Marseilles’s racially diverse and economically struggling quarter Le Panier, the film follows the ups and spiraling downs of a group of chums aged 30 going on 16, trying to carve out an identity for themselves other than as human targets for the National Front; “This is our home too!” becomes something of a mantra. Based on improvisations among the actors and rolled in a sun-dried French Mediterranean flavor, The Magnet avoids the sensationally doomed aura of Mathieu Kassowitz’s La Haine. Award-winning composer Bruno Calais and Akhenaton’s bewitching score—soul and hip-hop originals sung by American legends like Millie Jackson and rising local stars—is attuned to the mood swings of the characters, and the looseness of the handheld camera counteracts the looming fatalism: Some of these boys will rise from the pyre that razes the town to become grown men, but it might not be soon.

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