With a slow start and remarkable arch for the protagonist, Django picks up and plays its way right into our hearts, earning well-deserved applause from the crowd.
You can expect love, deception, and drama when one of the biggest names in music is trying to escape the spotlight and find happiness. No, this isn’t a pitch for an early 2000s romantic comedy, but the premise of Director Etienne Comar’s directorial debut Django that held its North American premiere during the opening night of Rendez-Vous With French Cinema. The film stars Reda Kateb in titular role and is centered on the life of jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, a pioneer and virtuoso, who during the time being depicted in the film was attempting to escape Nazi persecution in France.
What stands out about the movie is that even though it was set long ago it resonates with the here and now. That motif was beautifully conveyed by Reda Kateb who’s stellar and grounded depiction of Reinhardt included winning his mistress and the crowd over with his charming Clark Gable impersonation.
The plot focused on Reinhardt and gave us a chance to explore the psychological tug of war that comes with being torn between what’s right and what’s easy. In a world where leaders enforce unpopular policies like dictators, it was a breath of fresh air to see to see the jazz legend fight the establishment for his musical integrity and his people, two entities that combine to form the purest of intentions and motives for Reinhardt. Faced with the rules of the looming regime, Django channels some of his best work to date.
Struggle and survival are key themes in this film. Kateb’s Reinhardt comes off as a person who refuses to be silenced or controlled which makes for compelling juxtaposition when matched with the aforementioned difficult choices his character faces. Once living as lavish as a prince we see him humbled to the point where all he can depend on is music. Between the score and Kateb’s performance. audiences will be wanting more of Reinhardt and his beautiful compositions, but more importantly leave with a new sense of the freedom that can be gained from expression.