Jihadist rebels invade a desert town in the title region, laying down a draconian social code and punishing infractions with the lash and worse (in one horrifying scene, offenders are buried in the sand up to their necks and stoned to death). Directed by Abderrahmane Sissako (Bamako), this Malian drama offers a ringing indictment of Islamic fundamentalism as some of the more devout townspeople urge a more humane conception of jihad on their implacable new guests, and some of the more courageous souls react with outright defiance. Yet the rebels are too flatly characterized for the religious conflict to deepen, and Sissako’s other main story line, tracing a deadly feud between a fisherman and a cattle farmer, adds little to the movie’s political thrust. In English and subtitled French, Arabic, Bambara, Songhai, and Tamasheq.
PG-13 • 1 hour 37 min • 2015