Two aging lions of French cinema, Gerard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve, are ex-lovers standing on a Moroccan beach, staring out across the Strait of Gibraltar towards Spain. For them, it's a moment to give over completely to the past, and imagine how things might have been if they had stayed the people they were thirty years ago. But despite being wrapped up in themselves, they are not alone. Behind them, beyond the forest clearing, there are hundreds of eyes peering out from behind the trees. Those eyes are also looking in the direction of Spain, but for very different reasons. We are in Tangier, a busy port with a hustle-bustle vibe more easily attributed to its sister city, Casablanca. Having acquired a reputation for being a path of least resistance to continental Europe, Tangier is now, among other things, a trampled corridor for illegal migrants arriving from all points of lower Africa.
With such tremendous background action going on in this film, there's a brazen competition for our attention, between the characters and the city itself. At one point, a casual conversation between Deneuve's character, a radio DJ named Cecile, and a friend on a city street is bluntly interrupted by an unexpected moment: A fleeing migrant sprints directly past the characters and the camera, before being halted and seized by the police. Cecile and the friend have to stop their conversation and just watch the event unfold, along with the audience. Changing Times, indeed.