Cert: 15 Year: 2019 Length: 104 mins Language: French
No, not another remake of Victor Hugo's novel, but based on the same poverty and police injustice in the same suburbs of Paris.
We follow the first two days of rookie cop Stéphane with his two jaded fellow policemen, Gwada and Chris, whose techniques veer definitely off-law, harassing teenagers and annoying the already pent-up locals. When a lion is stolen from a travelling circus, a riot situation follows, filmed by a small boy on his drone-cam; the police cannot hush up their tactics this time...
Writer/Director Ladj Ly based this on his own experiences in the infamous housing estate 'les bosquets'. "In his direction and writing (the latter completed in collaboration with Giordano Gederlini and Alexis Manenti), Ly apportions blame fairly, and to be honest, there’s no one here to root for save the hapless Stéphane, and even he turns the odd blind eye to Chris' berserko outbursts" – David Jenkins Little White Lies.
"If the movie bears little resemblance to Hugo's plot, it does share the rage about injustice. And like its predecessor, which inflamed France in the 1860s, Ladj Ly's depiction of life in the tinderbox of Montfermeil – 20 kilometres east of the centre – has made itself felt in high places. President Emmanuel Macron has declared himself "upset by the accuracy" of the film, challenging his ministers to find solutions to the problems of the banlieues, the blighted suburbs where unrest frequently turns to riot" – Paul Byrnes, Sydney Morning Herald... "It's inexorable, terrifying, heartbreaking, with a finale that has plenty of weight. Ly's debut reminded me of Spike Lee's 'Do the Right Thing', made 30 years ago: urgent, provocative, tragic".
Nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe and the Palme d’Or at Cannes and another 46 nominations and 19 wins along the way, this should be a film to remember.
The most incendiary crime film to emerge from French cinema since Mathieu Kassovitz's La Haine.
Kevin Maher, Times (uk)
Les Miserables is a tour de force and it's hard to believe this is a debut film. Rosalynn Try-hane, Liquid Marmalade
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Keswick Film Club won the Best New Film Society at the British Federation Of Film Societies awards in 2000.
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