Release dateAugust 29, 2009 (2009-08-29) (Angouleme)
May 12, 2010 (2010-05-12) (France) WriterMehdi Ben Attia (screenplay), Olivier Laneurie (screenplay) ScreenplayMehdi Ben Attia, Olivier Laneurie CastClaudia Cardinale (Sara), Antonin Stahly-Vishwanadan (Malik), Salim Kechiouche (Bilal) Similar moviesInterstellar, Sex Tape, No Escape, The Age of Adaline, Ted, Dear John
The String (French: Le Fil) is a 2010 French film with French and Arabic dialogue, directed by Mehdi Ben Attia and made in Belgium and Tunisia. It stars Claudia Cardinale, Antonin Stahly and Salim Kechiouche. Notably, much of the film was shot in Tunisia, the country of birth of the film's director, Mehdi Ben Attia as well as that of Claudia Cardinale.
The film is focused on the relationship of Malik, played by Stahly, with his mother Sara, played by Cardinale, in the first weeks after Malik returns home to Tunisia from France to live with his recently widowed French-born mother on the family estate in the wealthy beachfront Tunis suburb, La Marsa. The French title, Le Fil refers to Malik's neurotic anxiety, originating in childhood but continuing in the time of the story, that he is attached at his back to a string that threatens to entangle and strangle him, an anxiety that expresses a troubled and deeply ambivalent relationship with his dominating mother, whom he cannot confront but upon whom he is also fearfully dependent. The title is also apparently a play on words, as the French title of the film, "le fil" (the thread), is closely akin in spelling to "le fils" (the son).
His mother and grandmother want Malik to marry and have children and Malik has failed to confront his mother with his own homosexuality. During the course of the story, Malik agrees to marry his friend and cousin, Syrine, a lesbian who is planning a pregnancy by artificial insemination in order to raise a child with her lesbian lover, but who nevertheless wants the child to have a father and be like other children in the traditional society of Tunisia. Malik also encounters and falls in love with Bilal, a 25 year old also recently returned from France to Tunisia, who does odd jobs and gardening for Sara and lives in the servants' quarters on the estate. Sara discovers the pair in bed together and begins her own journey of acceptance even as the two lovers depart on a road trip to the countryside where their intimacy and bond grows.
The film opens with a class of adults studying Arabic as a second language. While the teacher rehearses the students in repeating a simple phrase, Hakim, one of the students, whispers to his friend Bilal a question about why a person returns to his country, saying that he regrets everyday his decision to come back to Tunisia from France. .
Claudia Cardinale : Sara, Malik's mother
Antonin Stahly : Malik, Sara's son, an architect
Salim Kechiouche : Bilal, the handyman and gardener living in the servant's bungalow on Sara's property
Rihab Mejri : Wafa, Sara's cook and servant, lives in a room in the servants' bungalow
Driss Ramdi : Hakim, Bilal's friend, a fellow student learning Arabic as a second language
Ramla Ayari : Syrine, Malik's cousin, friend and colleague at an architectural firm
Abir Bennani : Leïla, the girlfriend of Syrine
Lotfi Dziri : Abdelaziz, the father of Malik, recently deceased at the time the main story takes place, he's seen in flashbacks of Malik's and Sara's memories.
Nejia Nemzi : Malik's paternal grandmother
Ali Mrabet : Wassim, the homo cousin of Malik
Hosni Khaled: Moncef, Syrine's father and a friend of Malik's parents