In Paris of the early 60s, a young Moise (Pierre Boulanger) is coming of age. He tends housefor his sullen father, loses his virginity with the help of the local prostitutes, and shoplifts the oddtin from the store of Mr. Ibrahim (Omar Sharif). The older man befriends the boy, and throughhis kindness and wisdom, becomes, effectively, the boy’s true father.
Sharif’s turn as Ibrahim is a performance of immense warmth, one that suffuses the entirefilm. Very welcome to… is the movie’s matter-of-fact way of dealing with the friendship thateffortlessly crosses religious borders. Structurally, the film is divided between the surprising andthe predictable. Though Moise’s relationship with a neighbourhood girl does not play out as onewould predict, the way the film alternates between happy moments and sad ones is a bitmechanical, and the ending is completely foreseen. Emotionally, however, the film rings so truethat it more than overcomes any plot shortcomings.
Though at one point one sees a car in the far background, but hears it in the rear speakers, the5.1 track is generally very good, with a particularly strong sense of the street environment. Thesometimes very humorous sound design (see the piggy-bank/loss-of-virginity sequence) is wellserved, and the sound is always clear and undistorted.
Films shot in 1.66:1 are rather unusual in this day and age, but here is one, and unlike manydiscs with this aspect ratio, the picture is anamorphic. The colours are good, if sometimes a bitdark, and the blacks are excellent. The picture varies from just a touch on the soft side in theParis scenes to razor sharp in the brilliant sunshine of the later sequences in Turkey.
Omar Sharif’s commentary is as warm and engaging as the film itself. While Sharif doesdiscuss some behind-the-scenes aspects, he also uses the film as a springboard for talking abouthis own memories (such as bumping into Glenn Ford immediately after, like Moises, losing hisvirginity to a prostitute). Also included are trailers for Monsieur Ibrahim, The Tripletsof Belleville, Bon Voyage, Good Bye, Lenin! and Monster. The menuis basic.
Touching and hopeful without descending into sticky sentiment, this is also a reminder ofwhat an incredible actor Sharif is when he is involved with a project he genuinely caresabout.
Special Features List
- Omar Sharif Commentary