Critic’s Pick: ‘24 Days’ a harrowing, fact-based kidnap drama

‘24 Days’
A scene from “24 Days.”
(Menemsha Films)

With the growing focus on hate crimes, consider checking out the reality-based drama “24 Days,” which details a French family’s agony when their son is kidnapped, days pass and hope dies. French director Alexandre Arcady brings a gritty, bare-bones approach to the story of Ilan Halimi, a 23-year-old Parisian taken and tortured in 2006 by a group that would come to be known as the Gang of Barbarians. It is chilling hearing the group’s mastermind, an unbalanced Fofana (Tony Harrisson), scream irrational demands and anti-Semitic tirades in some 700 phone calls the family received over the 24 days. What carries the film, which is now moving to a few more theaters, is the interplay between the victim’s divorced parents Ruth (Zabou Breitman) and Didier (Pascal Elbé) — estranged for so long, now trying to set aside differences to ensure their son’s survival. The filmmaker has said he made the film to remind people of the victims, not the headline-grabbing murderers. “24 Days” makes Ilan Halimi impossible to forget.

— Betsy Sharkey