Review: Paris projects ready to ignite in 'Les Miserables'


Ladj Ly’s muscular police procedural “Les Miserables” is contrivance leaner than Victor Hugo’s sprawling new and shares little with it moreover a suburban Paris atmosphere


JAKE COYLE AP Movie Author

January 9, 2020, 12: 48 AM

4 min read

Ladj Ly’s muscular police procedural “Les Miserables” is contrivance leaner than Victor Hugo’s sprawling new and shares little with it moreover a suburban Paris atmosphere. But they’re united in their sympathy for — and perception in the formidable vitality of — the underclass.

“Les Miserables,” France’s Oscar submission and the jury prize winner at last one year’s Cannes Movie Competition, is a visceral, avenue-luminous portrait of these that abuse vitality, and these that quiz it, in the working-class Paris banlieue of Montfermeil. The film is decided specifically across the housing projects is named Les Bosquets, ground zero in the Paris riots of 2005. That explosion of violence became as soon as, in share, about French identification. Most of the rioters were unhappy 2nd- or third-period immigrants, largely North African Arabs, who had long been marginalized.

Ly, the son of a garbage collector from Mali, grew up in the house, and when the unrest erupted, he became as soon as there to anecdote it. “Les Miserables” is his fiction-film debut, and it pulses with the fireplace and feeling of a filmmaker dramatizing something he is aware of intimately.

Ly fills his film with a spectrum of characters from across the projects: the formative years who dart garbage can covers down cement esteem sleds, including the younger Issa (Issa Perica); the Muslim Brotherhood people, including the kebab store proprietor Salah (Almamy Kanouté); a gang of gypsy circus workers, angry when their lion cub is stolen by Issa; a native community leader is named “The Mayor” (Steve Tientcheu).

But the film’s central characters are a trio of law enforcement officials in the Boulevard Crimes Unit who cruise via the neighborhood. Original to the crew is Stephane (Damien Bonnard), a more dutiful cop whose consideration to the legislation, and the rights of electorate, isn’t shared by the harassing, proudly racist motormouth Chris (Alexis Manenti, who co-wrote the film with Ly and Giordano Gederlini). His faithful, if a little of skeptical shaded partner is Gwada (Djebril Zonga).

On his first day, the police commissioner (Jeanne Balibar) tells Stephane: “No solidarity, no crew.”

The procedural function up, taking region across one eventful day, is familiar. “Les Miserables,” by which the SCU’s ways come to a head with the impoverished community evokes “Coaching Day” or “Function the Appropriate Thing” as great because it does Hugo.

But Ly’s film excels in its engaging verisimilitude, its terrific cast and its intensity. “Les Miserables” is a powder keg, in any respect times susceptible to detonating. We enjoy the sense that the Bosquets’ simmering flames of disquiet and injustice are in any respect times a matchstick a ways flung from blazing.

Tensions enact lastly spill over, with Ly commandingly tracking the motion from the bottom and, in frequent drone shots, from above. The conclusion tricks the film into an inferno that can, by letting the tensions out, dilute the film’s force. But less questionable is the direction of Ly’s ogle, who turns his film’s focal point in direction of the younger boys of the Bosquets, and the murky future their nation is fixing for them.

By then, the sense of harmony — you might well perchance articulate solidarity — expressed in the film’s opening scenes has long since disappeared. These early footage favor the boys joyously celebrating with the Paris throngs in France’s World Cup victory. Ly ends with an ominous quote from Hugo: “There are no sinful vegetation or sinful men; there are simplest sinful cultivators.”

“Les Miserables,” an Amazon Studios starting up, is rated R by the Motion Image Affiliation for language, violence and sexual references. Running time: 104 minutes. In French with English subtitles. Three stars out of 4.


MPAA definition of R: Restricted. Below 17 requires accompanying dad or mum or adult guardian.


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