Malik, Allal and Soufiane spend most of their time earning their living by doing petty crimes and in their spare time just smoke weed and go to dance clubs. Everything changes when Malik meets Dounia, one of the club dancers. Suddenly his friendship with Allal and Soufiane weakens and he is ready to do everything for his femme fatale. To earn more money, he becomes involved with the corrupt police officer and ends up snitching on people. The thread of betrayal is strongly drawn like a thin red line throughout the whole movie. Malik betrays his uncle and his two friends only to be betrayed by the ‘evil’ woman in the end. Social critique is another strong theme present in the film; Death for Sale depicts a story about people on the margin, whose cruelty results from the social context they live in.
Bensaïdi thus mixes various different film genres, socially engaged cinema, a romance and film noir, not always to the film’s greatest advantage, however. Due to this inter-genre-like characteristic of the film, many motifs and themes are not developed further. For instance, Soufiane’s involvement with an orthodox Muslim group is an engaging element in the story, but does not receive enough space to be told. The common feature is the unpredictability and incomprehensibility of the characters’ motives and emotions. Nonetheless, these shortcuts and unexplained ways of behavior might also be a way of showing how people become socially constructed without the film becoming too didactic and pathetic, but nonetheless socially engaged at the same time.
by Michaela Pnacekova