Rock the Kasbah
Bill Murray stars in the somewhat risky and undeniably cringe-worthy comedy, Rock the Kasbah. Murray plays Richie Lanz, a strung-out talent agent from California who, in desperation for some cash, attempts an impromptu trip to Afghanistan for a rock music tour with a young singer called Ronnie (Zooey Deschanel). Unfortunately for Richie, upon arrival in Afghanistan, Ronnie flees to Dubai, taking with her Richie’s money and passport and leaving him stranded in an unfamiliar country with few allies. Whilst attempting to find a way home, Richie stumbles upon an Afghan girl with a mesmerising singing voice and decides that he must help her to win the local Afghan Star singing competition, which is not normally open to women.
Director Barry Levinson’ production is perhaps not the most sensitive in its approach to its setting or cultural references, and is often clichéd in its somewhat clunky portrayal of “East meets West”. However, with its impressive cast (Bill Murray, Kate Hudson, Zooey Deschenal, even Bruce Willis) the film nonetheless entertains and keeps viewers genuinely wondering: what on earth is going to happen next?
Alongside visually striking and colourful scenery and a nostalgic 70s rock-oriented soundtrack, Rock the Kasbah tries its hand at something a little different. But is it successful? It appears to represent a traditional Western storyline about talent overcoming adversity and the shattering of taboos, but transplants the whole thing to Afghanistan. Considering the current political climate, this makes for some uncomfortable viewing at times, but is certainly thought-provoking.
The comedic skill of Bill Murray compensates for the film’s awkward narrative issues and, for many, it will be an enjoyable experience to see him back doing what he does best: playing another eccentric underdog character.
Despite its occasionally difficult themes, Rock the Kasbah is well worth a watch and delivers some truly emotional scenes, as well as some beautiful cinematography and uplifting musical moments.
Rock The Kasbah is released nationwide on 18th March 2016.
Watch the trailer for Rock The Kasbah here: