Arab means open from 8AM to Midnight, even on Sundays, in the grocery trade.
– Monsieur Ibrahim to Momo in Monsieur Ibrahim
To my good fortune, I recently stumbled upon Monsieur Ibrahim, a decade-old French movie.
How I picked this film from among the tens of thousands of DVDs on the movie rental service Netflix remains a mystery even to me.
Life’s impenetrable enigmas seem to expand in the autumn of my life!
Monsieur Ibrahim is a beautifully crafted work showcasing an old Muslim grocer’s affection for his young Jewish customer in a middle-class Paris neighborhood in the 1960s.
In my not-so-humble opinion, the best movies are those with a simple theme set in an everyday setting.
The famous Omar Sharif and the nobody Pierre Boulanger play the two main characters of the eponymous grocer and young boy respectively.
Monsieur Ibrahim is an “Arab” grocer whose store is across the street from teenager Moїse ‘Momo’ Schmidt’s apartment.
Momo lives with his father, an aloof man with a fondness for reading and music.
We know Momo’s mother has long left the household but don’t know the details except that she took Momo’s elder brother with her.
Is the mother’s departure the reason for the father’s detached nature?
Who can fathom the many mysteries of human behavior!
Momo displays the typical White trash behavior toward immigrants by stealing from the grocer.
Then there are the hookers lining up the street outside the store.
And a motley crew these prostitutes are.
Black, White, big tits, small tits, stout, thin, ugly, pretty, warm, indifferent.
Young Momo breaks his piggy bank to feel the warmth of the hooker’s embrace.
Who can blame a love-deprived young boy for longing for warmth.
Be it Omar Sharif, the hookers or Pierre Boulanger, the acting is, oh, so beautiful.
Omar Sharif adds ballast to the term ‘brilliant’ through his performance as the warm, compassionate grocer with his love for young Momo, an affection that transcends the religious barrier dividing Muslims and Jews.
Is this my first Omar Sharif film?
I can’t say for sure.
Monsieur Ibrahim is an atypical film in some respects.
For instance, Momo’s life takes a turn for the better only through a family tragedy.
Monsieur Ibrahim purchases a flashy red car and with his new adopted son Momo embarks on a long drive to Turkey.
Now what is life but misery punctuated by brief dashes of happiness.
And so the movie ends on a sad note.
I found the ending a bit abrupt and more than a bit contrived.
Still, the pluses of the film far outweigh the minuses.
Monsieur Ibrahim is one of those rare films where you don’t feel you’re watching a film.
Au contraire, it seems like you’re a voyeur to events happening near you.
If you’re one of those rare Indians with a fondness for good movies, Monsieur Ibrahim is available on Netflix DVD.