Alice Kaplan at The Nation:
Albert Camus, once decried as the symbol of reactionary French Algeria by Jean-Paul Sartre and other grands hommes of the mid-century French left, has been the subject of increasingly positive revaluations since the posthumous publication of his unfinished autobiographical novel, The First Man, in 1994. Camus’s account of his threadbare beginnings, his love for his deaf mother and his ambivalence about success and exile gave readers reasons to think that, thirty-four years after his death, they finally knew something about him. Meanwhile, Sartre’s devotion to violent revolution had lost much of its allure during the 1990s, when a civil war in Algeria between radical Islamists and the Algerian army threatened the survival of secular intellectual life itself. The centenary of Camus’s birth in 2013 was welcomed in France with an array of new work, including a fascinating documentary by Joël Calmettes about Camus’s readers in the far corners of the globe. In the United States, Robert Zaretsky’s fine intellectual biography and the Harvard translation of Camus’s Algerian Chronicles were widely reviewed. Now, in the wake of the centenary, two bold and original new works swap criticism for art: a film, Loin des hommes, or Far From Men, and a novel, Meursault, contre-enquête, remain faithful to the moral and aesthetic spirit of Camus’s fictions while setting his themes and preoccupations in the geopolitical present.
David Oelhoffen’s captivating Algerian western takes as its starting point Camus’s 1957 short story “The Guest,” though calling the film an adaptation would be a misnomer. Far From Menis closer to a new draft of a story that Camus had considered to be malleable and for which he imagined two opposing endings—as though the indecision crafted into the original story was an irresistible invitation to transform its essence in another medium.