Playground Chronicles: Loss of Innocents!

By Nataranjan Bohidar

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

Playground Chronicles, Chroniques d'une cour de récré, Brahim Fritah
Playground Chronicles (2012) By Brahim Fritah

In about half the time it takes for a Bollywood pulp to unsheathe its now familiar filmy tale of ingratiating-to-the-public sex and gratuitous violence, ‘Playground Chronicles’ conjures up digital magic that leaves the audience Spellbound. The reference is intended. For 85 Hitchcockian minutes we are gasping to find out what will happen next as director Brahim Fritah maintains a safe distance that makes him as chilled out as cucumber while the guilt complex is all ours. The joke is on the director, to begin with, when we find out that his protagonist is a 10 year old named ‘Brahim’, whose slightly older brother is ‘Fritah’, ah ha ha , and the two share a Moroccan immigrant’s life with a lil sis, culinary accomplished anxious-about-the-future mum and sincere dad making up the rest of a family of five. But the laugh builds slowly at us as we emerge from our urban amnesia of them who live…and love…and bond ..and bust… on the periphery.

IMDb Ratings: 6.8
Genre: Comedy | Family
CastYanis Bahloul, Rocco Campochiaro, Vincent Rottiers
Country: France
Language: French
Runtime: 85 min
Color: Color
A Still from Playground Chronicles, Directed by Brahim Fritah
A Still from Playground Chronicles
Temporary digs are not Brahim’s only playground of couch, color t.v. (at times b&w , at times hollowed out), siblings and soft bed, where he watches and slumps and observes and reacts and talks back and dreams up enchanting dreams, somewhere south of Paris, the city known to the world for very different dreams, indeed. Blessed with a face that would do justice to the innocents of Fellini and Truffaut, Brahim extends his play to the connecting factory courtyard and factory offices where his father is janitor, where he helps his dad surreptitiously to clean up the garbage, where he participates in the local ritual of hanging empty discarded bottles high up on a foreboding discarded Daliesque crane to make a wish, such as we tie threads at dargahs and fly flags on temples, except that this here is to seek protection from the uncertainties of industrialization that can come down in a crash anytime.
A Still from Playground Chronicles, Directed by Brahim Fritah
A Still from Brahim Fritah's Playground Chronicles
Into this hallowed space steps Salvador, a school friend, of somewhat higher social status but an immigrant nonetheless, from Chile…. a deeply desired companion of Brahim and perhaps competitor for Nathalie, Brahim’s classroom infatuation. From school to summer vacation, from backyard to garage, from weedy unkempt spaces to rusty drums and broom held ambitiously aloft, from cynical principal and the hint of a cougar school ma’am to testy canines, from mustachioed brinks-men to their suited counterparts,from camera to filmless photos, from desire to memory, back and from home to home away to home alone to homeless home, Brahim the little boy and Brahim the director take us on a fantastic emotional roller coaster ride, including a reverse “Rabbit in Alice’s Hinterland”… building strong bonds of gossamer threads.
Boy clicks a photo, Playground Chronicles - Movie Still, A Still from Playground Chronicles, Directed by Brahim Fritah
A Still from Brahim Fritah's Playground Chroncles
Then comes the strike, accompanied as it usually does with casual betrayals of gigantic proportions, the crane of hope collapses and wrenching separations that should touch the marginalized in all of us waft and drift Brahim away from his beloved playground to certain uncertainty… and the phrase ‘loss of innocence’ takes on a completely new meaning… ‘Playground Chronicles’ is not for the faint-hearted… to whom we recommend uncomplicated big budget adventures such as “Chronicles of Narnia” and straight laced stories of the ” Alice in Wonderland” kind.

About Author - 

Nataranjan Bohidar has 40 years of teaching, training & transformational expertise. His interests are socio-cultural symbiogenesis & citizen positioning. His current initiative is to position India as a democracy within a continuum where cinema is a key subtext.

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