“Do you think we’re tourists?”
Reda (Nicolas Cazale) is a Moroccan living in France and attending university when his father (Mohamed Majd) decides that he wants to undertake his Hajj. Reda protests strongly–missing classes will mean that he fails (again). Reda’s older brother was supposed to be the driver for this arduous trip, but since he lost his license, Reda is volunteered for the job. Reda doesn’t understand why they can’t fly to their destination, and he doesn’t look forward to the close confinement with his father. They have little in common any more, and they are strangers to one another.
As Reda and his father travel to Mecca, they have many misadventures along the way. Reda’s father clearly wants no distractions to his concentration, and very quickly throws away his son’s cell phone. Gradually, their rocky relationship undergoes changes as Reda gains a grudging respect for his father.
Le Grand Voyage is a fairly standard ‘road’ film, and it depicts the journey undertaken often in reluctance that changes the lives of the travelers and their relationships forever. Most of the adversity Reda and his father encounter is predictable. However, the journey in Le Grand Voyage highlights the vast gulf created by the cultural differences between westernized Reda and his traditional Muslim father. One scene depicts Reda whooping it up with an exotic belly dancer he meets in a club, and this act sparks disgust from his father. Reda asks, “Don’t you practice forgiveness in your religion?” The goal of their journey–the gathering of the pilgrims to Mecca is also the culmination of the film, and it’s an event that my western eyes have never observed. Written and directed by Ismael Ferroukhi, the film is in Bulgarian, French, Arabic, Italian, English, and Turkish-with English subtitles.