Critic Reviews



Based on 11 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
Absent from Young Ahmed is the frenetic urgency that defines the directors’ greatest work, replaced here by the titular character’s unshakable tunnel vision.
Focused and thought-provoking, it should be welcomed as a return to form after the disappointment of The Unknown Girl.
Told respectfully and far from tarring an entire religion with the same brush, Young Ahmed is an exceptionally crafted and intelligent film.
Time Out
Young Ahmed might not have answers, but it asks pertinent questions and makes acute observations. Its ending is hopeful, yet open. It’s a wise and sensitive contribution to a timely debate.
The Dardennes have been the reigning kings of social realism for years, and tell these sort of morality fables on autopilot, but they’re such precise storytellers that even a minor work like “Young Ahmed” manages to deliver tense showdowns riddled with real-world connotations.
Instantly recognizable as a Dardenne film, Young Ahmed has that same deceptively “rough” quality as the directors’ earlier work, a carryover from their documentary background. And yet, they are astonishingly efficient storytellers, weaving the necessary clues audiences need to evaluate — and at times entirely reconsider — their characters with the expertise of veteran detective novelists.
Young Ahmed isn’t a folly, exactly. It’s reasonably gripping on a scene-by-scene level, and about as starkly unsentimental as any of the Dardennes’ lean, urgent moral thrillers. But its inability to shine a light on Ahmed’s soul leaves it feeling more like an exercise than anything the brothers have made, especially by its hasty, unearned ending.
It is an involving story, with a strong lead performance.
Fanaticism – even in one so young and theoretically still savable – is a uniquely bad match for the brothers’ methods.
In the end, Young Ahmed feels like little more than a pained shrug, elegantly made, yes, but vaporous and virtue-signaling an empathy that's more gestural than heartfelt.

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