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Brigadier Stéphane Ruiz is a young and light-heartened cop who moves to Paris to be closer of his little son after the divorce of his wife. Working in the impoverished suburb of Montfermeil, in the 93th district, where Victor Hugo wrote his famous 1862's novel "The Miserables", Ruiz joins the local Anti-Crime Brigade, being paired with veterans but unscrupulous colleagues Chris and Gwada, who are charged with the task to train Ruiz about the way Montfermeil's works and the people to meet. However, his first day in Montfermeil twists in bad way when the owner of a circus and his men meet where drug-lord Le Maire ("The Mayor") claiming for a stolen baby lion a few hours ago, blaming him by the theft. Avoiding a fight between Le Maire and circus' owner, the three cops patrol the hood looking for the animal, learning that a troubled kid named Issa is the thief, who stolen to have it as pet. But when Ruiz, Chris and Gwada locate Issa to recover the baby lion, Issa's friends attempt to ...Written by
This movie deserves a round of applause for tackling such a big issue as the social and ethnical diversity in treacherous areas such as the suburbs of Paris. The fact he does that with such a refine style and a cautious but reasonable neutrality makes this film greater that it should have been, even if the story in itself catches your attention from begginning to end. So what is it all about ?
Stéphane, a cop who recently joined the Montfermeil anti-crime brigade quickly discovers the tensions between the different groups in the neighbourhood of Montfermeil, a dangerous suburbs of Paris, he discovers as well as the curious methods of his team mates that he disapproves in the first place. During an arrest, one of them gets overwhelmed by the events and made a terrible blunder but a drone has filmed all the scene - they must find that drone at all cost.
Beyond the police blunder, it's a denonciation of several misconducts in those areas and the complete state of neglect that all suffer from that is tackled in this film.
In fact this movie has a lot of qualities starting of course by its content: real whistle blower of a latent conflict. A bit of a bolt out of the blue for those who were still dreaming of a pacified country.
Don't get it wrong. The film does not call for civil war. It's just a depiction of what happens every day in some cities of France. The Victor Hugo's reference is just a wink, a little tribute as Monfermeil (the city where the story takes place) is also where the Thenardier family in Les Misérables (the book) used to live. In fact the movie is more about what the word "Les Misérables"' means than about the story of the book. The film focuses on the miserable people living, working (the cops of course), growing (the kids) , their interractions and conflicts in those abandoned lands of the French republic. The director wanted to send a message to the authorities and make them realize what are the feelings of the people living there who had been left in the lurch after political promises for so many years.
The fact that the director tackles this issue through the policemen' eyes is daring and intelligent since we quickly realize that the policemen are part of these miserable people as well. Then starts on a vicious circle which leads to the final phrase of Victor Hugo himself: there is no bad seeds, or bad men but just bad growers.
In terms of rythm, intensity and style the film is a great success . You never loose the tension, you never want to take sides but you want to know where and how it will end up even if you presume it will end up badly. The amateur actors and profesional actors are all of them very genuine especially the bad and the good cop. The scene of the conflict between the gypsies and the kids of the neighborhood was quite of a shock, and the plot in general is gripping from the beginning to the end.
I highly recommend it.
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