French-Armenian director Robert Guediguian takes on the Armenian genocide and the campaign of vengeance against Turkey in a film that goes in unexpected directions.
The ripple effects of the Armenian genocide on subsequent generations are felt in Robert Guediguian’s drama set during the wave of militant attacks in Europe in the 1980s, according to
Cannes regular Robert Guediguian, the social-realist chronicler of working-class Marseille, reconnects with his paternal roots in Don’t Tell Me the Boy Was Mad, an impassioned but long-winded consideration of the Armenian genocide’s lasting impact on the displaced generations that followed. The film benefits from detailed historical background and an engrossing establishing section that seeds a sense of bitter injustice passed on from survivors to their descendants. But contrived plotting, unidimensional characters and lack of economy weigh down the drama.
The clunky English-language title comes from the lyrics of a 1980 hit by French pop songstress France Gall. But the source material is an autobiographical novel by Spanish journalist Jose Antonio Gurriaran, who was semi-paralyzed in a bomb blast planned by militants from the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) in Madrid in 1981. During his recovery, he researched the Ottoman Empire’s extermination and removal of Armenians from their homeland during World War I, a crime against humanity still officially denied by Turkey. As a result, Gurriaran became an activist for international recognition of the Armenian genocide.