The fact-based tale of
cops versus smack smugglers in 1970s Marseille may be familiar from a certain
celebrated American film, but this take, made with gusto by director Cédric
Jimenez, doesn’t seem daunted at all.
Nor does its hero
(Jean Dujardin), a decent magistrate whose compassion for street kids takes him
straight to the source of the heroin that’s wrecking their lives. That would be
a self-righteous kingpin (Gilles Lellouche), who proves also to be a tauntingly
elusive nemesis. It comes as no surprise that both sides of this engrossing
rivalry see their family bonds strenuously tested.
Jimenez hasn’t exactly
broken the period-crime/thriller mold, but he’s built a solid entertainment,
with techniques well absorbed from the American movie tradition. Early on, we
get our bearings by way of briskly Scorsesean montage—a tidy mosaic of visual,
musical and spoken narration. Scenes thereafter ring with clarity, and the
movie doesn’t feel as long as it is (two hours-plus). Details of production
design seem correct without being overbearing, and Dujardin never looks
desperate to insist he’s a serious dramatic actor.
Plus, there are life
lessons, such as, When punishing an insubordinate assistant by pumping him full
of bullets, do be sure, lest the job go unfinished, to take out at least one
Directed by Cédric Jimenez
With Dujardin, Lellouche, Céline Sallette
Santa Fe Reporter
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