Road to Oscars
Name: Omar Killed Me
Director: Roschdy Zem
Cast: Sami Bouajila, Denis Podalydès and Maurice Bénichou
A Moroccan gardener accused of murdering his employer on the French Riveria in 1991 makes for the focus of the story. Omar Killed Me is an adaptation of true events. In this crime-and courtroom drama it is the story, which is the real star. Sami Bouajila (Omar Raddad) is sent to prison for murdering his employer — with the film subsequently detailing both Omar’s exploits and the ongoing efforts of a notorious crusader (Denis Podalydès, Pierre-Emmanuel Vaugrenard) at proving Omar’s innocence.
Punching holes into the theories of the police and the accusers is Vaugrenard, who is aided by a sprightly assistant (Salome Stevenin), and Raddad’s cunningly intelligent lawyer, Maitre Verges (Maurice Benichou), one of France’s most famous defence lawyers. Along the way, the film shows how a simple guilty or not guilty verdict can become clouded by prejudice, procedural mistakes and subsequent cover-ups. Part of the story’s fascination lies in the fact it doesn’t tell the tale of a clearly innocent man struggling against mighty odds, but rather an ugly true story fraught with racism, class problems and prejudice, and other assorted societal ills.
Bouajila’s nuanced, deeply humanistic beliefs — which neatly balances innocence and anger over his conviction, despite the fact Raddad isn’t portrayed as a saint. Even the supporting cast has done a wonderful job.