Street Flow

Last night I watched a French film on Netflix called Street Flow (Banlieusards). It’s a drama that addresses issues of race, poverty, family values and the struggles of a single parent through the lens of a black Muslim family living in the suburbs of Paris. 

Soulaymaan, the middle brother, is a scholar working on his law degree. Noumouke, fifteen years old, has a choice to either earn quick drug money by following in the footsteps of his eldest brother, Demba, or he can improve his academic performance. Khadijar, their widowed mother, is an elderly woman who suffers from health issues. Due to the mother’s choice to disassociate herself from Demba, much of the parenting lies on the shoulders of Soulaymaan.

The film also touches on race. Soulaymaan, the most innocent of the three brothers, gets profiled by French police for running in an attempt to catch his train. When the police fail to find anything illegal on him, they are forced to release him, but not until one of them makes a comment about how fast “these creatures run.” 

For me what’s striking about the film? 

It’s the sacrificial act of the least likely person, Demba. One review states, “It is easy to judge Demba’s character and label him as nothing but a heartless criminal . . .”  But, in the end, Demba saves his 15-year-old brother from the life of “quick money” and literally sacrificed himself to save Soulaymaan. 

I saw three biblical figures converging in the life of Demba – the thief on the cross who became aware of Christ’s salvation, the worker in the parable who was hired late in the day and given the same wages as those hired earlier by the master, and a Christ figure who sacrificed his life to save his brother. 

Can we break out of myopic spirituality? Understand that the Spirit works through the most unlikely persons. Can we understand the contemporary application of the words, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the corner stone.” 

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