les miserables

★★★

DIRECTOR: Ladj Ly (the pitful, go fast connexion)
STARRING: damien bonnard, alexis manenti, djebril zonga and issa perica

 

REVIEWER: emily carter

A cop from the provinces moves to Paris to join the Anti-Crime Brigade of Montfermeil, discovering an underworld where the tensions between the different groups mark the rhythm.

While you can draw a few parallels between this French film and the Les Mis you've seen on stage, read at school or "that one with Russell Crowe", this is more maddenly-modern than musical.

 

Maddening only in the way it makes you squirm in your seat. So frustratingly unjust and heart-breakingly broken, 2019's Les Mis depicts a side of Paris we're unfamiliar with. A working class district familiar with violence, not only from within, but from the police that patrol their grafitti-laden apartment buildings too.

 

The irony of the title becomes clear as the brutal story unfolds. We meet Stéphane (Damien Bonnard), a police officer who joins the Anti- Crime brigade and meets his teammates Chris (Alexis Maneti) and Gwada (Dejebril Zonga). He quickly discovers the district's rival groups, hardships, leaders and the insufferable way the people are treated by their police. The trio are soon caught up in an arrest gone wrong that is witnessed by many more than anticipated. Stéphane is torn between right and wrong as the fallout unfolds.

 

This film makes you undeniably uncomfortable from beginning to end. This must be the way the director, Ladj Ly, intended. Being from the same district as he depicts, there is nothing he shies away from. Every part is hugely confronting and unrelenting. Ly ensures the audience becomes very familiar with his Paris, and the people that populate it.

 

If you're ready for some realness and cool to get uncomfortable, Les Misérables is a wonderfully revealing watch. It draws you in deeply and breaks your heart every other minute - a truly provoking 2019 response to the Victor Hugo classic.

★★★

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