About as far from being a rousing stage musical as is possible, Les Misérables’ exhilarating, engrossing portrait of war on the streets between a swaggering Anti-Crime Squad and the myriad gangs they are trying to police shared the Jury Prize at Cannes.
In sharp contrast to the opening scenes of a unified France celebrating its 2018 World Cup win on the Champs-Élysées, the film takes place in a troubled Paris suburb over the course of a tightly-wrought couple of days, recalling Training Day with its portrayal of compromised cops, the crossing of ethical lines and the conscience of a newcomer. But director Ladj Ly’s rendition of the drug- and poverty-stricken banlieues of working-class France is less Hollywood and more naturalistic à la The Wire, with astonishing performances by everyone from his three lead thugs to the indignant crooks, beleaguered immigrant families and children caught in the crossfire.
Director: Ladj Ly
Screenplay: Ladj Ly, Giordano Gederlini, Alexis Manenti
Cast: Damien Bonnard, Alexis Manenti, Djibril Zonga, Steve Tientcheu, Al-Hassan Ly, Issa Perica, Jeanne Balibar, Diego Lopez
2019 Rating: R13, Violence, offensive language & sexual references
France. French with English subtitles