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47. Le Grand Voyage; movie review

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Title : 47. Le Grand Voyage; movie review
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Cert PG
98 mins
BBFC advice: Contains mild language, violence and one upsetting scene

Since it was first released in 2005, Le Grand Voyage has been the subject of much scholarly analysis - presumably by those who were either taken with its central father-son relationship or the way it pitches secularism against religion.
I haven't got around to reading any university papers on the subject or dared to look into the mind of its maker, Ismaël Ferroukhi.
But I am guessing that there will have been many conclusions over his motivations which will have been wide of the mark.
Le Grand Voyage could have been as appealing to Jeremy Clarkson as it will have been to students sitting in lecture halls.
That's because its focus is a 3,000-mile trip from France to Saudi Arabia - I bet even he hasn't managed that.
Actually, no non-Muslims will have done because getting visas for such a drive is probably only possible for pilgrims to Mecca.
I digress.
It's exactly what an elderly father (Mohamed Majd) wants to do before he dies and so, after one son lets him down, he turns to his youngest (Nicolas Cazalé) to take him there.
This is a demand not a request and is seen as such by the young man whose relationship with his dad is, at best frosty and their clash plays itself out in a car over days and weeks.
Neither father nor son makes any pretence of trying to understand each other - almost glorying in finding fault.
Indeed, when the young man tries to break out of the metaphorical straitjacket applied by his father, he winds him up even more.
So, why does such an unpromising premise work? Because it is not only a reflection of real life but it shows what the old and traditional can learn from the young and modern and vice versa.
And it is beautifully acted by Majd and Cazalé - who totally convince that they are father and son.
Le Grand Voyage also shows just how tricky such a long journey can be logistically and the type of people it is possible to meet (often when you don't have the common element of language).
In a superficial way, it took me back to my student Interrail trip around Europe with a mate.
Our discoveries weren't quite as poignant, however.

Reasons to watch: A gentle but intriguing relationship between father and son
Reasons to avoid: Low on action

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 8/10

Did you know? The Hajj to Mecca in Saudi Arabia is considered the world's largest human gathering with almost 2.5 million pilgrims in 2019. 

The final word. Ismaël Ferroukhi: Nobody wanted to give us money to make this movie. I think what made people nervous was that it is a film involving ten countries and filming in Mecca. They also said it wasn’t commercially viable. I understand. Two characters in a car for an hour and a half. Academia 

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