With the Arab Spring slowly beginning a sea change over the non-democratic rule of the many of the oil rich nations in the Middle East, the timing for Jean-Jacques Annaud’s epic “Black Gold” is fortuitous. While the history of oil in the Middle East is definitely complex, Annaud will take viewers right back to the beginning to when the resource was first discovered burbling underneath the sand.
Penned by Menno Meyjes (”Empire Of The Sun,” “Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade”) and based on Hans Reusch’s book “The Great Thirst,” the film will follow the ‘30s-set rivalry between two Emirs in Arabia just as oil is being discovered, while a young dynamic leader begins to attempt uniting the various tribes of the desert kingdoms. The top-shelf cast finds Antonio Banderas playing Nessib, one of the two rival Emirs, Mark Strong as his counterpart Amar, “A Prophet” star Tahar Rahim as Strong’s son Prince Auda, Freida Pinto as Banderas’ daughter Princess Lallah, and her “Trishna” co-star Riz Ahmed as Auda’s half brother Dr. Ali. While the large-scale movie looks undeniably impressive, the love story element feels a bit trite and the drama a bit creaky. But Banderas seems to be relishing his scenery-chewing part and with this talent involved, it’s one that we’ll be seeking out anyway (no word yet if the final sequence takes place in a bowling alley).
“Black Gold” recently made its world premiere at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival but is currently without a U.S. distributor. It hits theaters in France on November 23rd. Trailer below. [ComingSoon]