Hopelessness and despair was what a group of French citizens, and a few immigrants who found a home in a Parisian suburb in abandoned what appeared to be structures erected for military purposes, but long left empty. The appalling living conditions of these people were exacerbated by the lack of comforts that were lacking in these temporary refuges where they found temporary homes pending the government intervention to erect low income dwellings.
Only a priest, Joseph Wresinski, acted as the conscience of that horrible place. Father Joseph could have asked to be sent to another church where his life would have been better, but he chose to stay behind doing whatever was in his power to assuage some of the poor inhabitants of that forsaken slum. Some of the tough element among the shanty town thought he was a figure that would be in their way, as these thugs were involved in shady deals. They even set his shack on fire.
Among the inhabitants of the makeshift neighborhood, a poor woman, Alicia, sees her world come crashing when her son Jacques, a good boy, was caught taking things from a van so his mother and siblings could get some food. Sent to reform school, it was up to Father Joseph to keep communications between mother and son. Joseph ultimately gets things moving when he teams up with a relative of Gen. Charles De Gaulle, who is instrumental in the building of 70 units for families.
A well meaning film made for French television. Directed with great realism by Caroline Glorion, the film documents the lives of the poor people in a suburb, in sharp contrast with the rebuilding of the rest of the country after WWII. The main attraction for watching this documentary like film is Jacques Weber, whose Joseph is what a Jesus might have been like, had he been around. M. Weber gives a good performance of the tireless priest who wanted to better their poor lives by whatever means he had at his disposal. Anouk Grinsberg is seen as Alicia. Anne Coesens, Laurence Cote and Patrick Descamps are seen in supporting roles.
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