Monsieur Ibrahim could have so easily been played out as a timid father-son buddy flick, but while it is not a singularly unusual tale, it does carry a decent measure of frolic and sentiment.
Sharif as an elderly Muslim immigrant grocer in Paris knocks one out of the park with his bravura performance. His charisma is infectious as he spews aphorisms left and right. And his counterpart, a young boy going astray, does a poignant turn of coming of age. As he explores his budding sexuality and navigates the trials of his first love, he comes into the sphere of the elderly grocer's friendship and some interesting interactions ensue.
The first 60% of the movie contains several small pleasures, including the boy's interaction with "worker" women , the way he and the grocer play trivial tricks on his father, his infatuation with a local girl, and his trip to buy a new car. Unfortunately, the movie pretty much loses its way after that, as the two protagonists take to the road for a trip to Turkey.
The ending is ambiguous in an unsatisfying way, and, although there is a definitive denouement, I left the film not seeming to care as much about the fates of the protagonists as I would have liked to.
Yet, for its enthralling views of Turkey and the fun histrionics of Sharif, I'd surely recommend this as a decent rental. One wonders if it would stand to a second viewing though.