After growing up in a poor gypsy camp, Edmond Vidal, aka Momon, has retained a sense of family, unfailing loyalty and pride in his origins. Most of all, he has remained friends with Serge ...
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After growing up in a poor gypsy camp, Edmond Vidal, aka Momon, has retained a sense of family, unfailing loyalty and pride in his origins. Most of all, he has remained friends with Serge Suttel, with whom he first discovered prison life - for stealing cherries. The two of them inevitably got involved in organized crime. The team they formed, the Gang Des Lyonnais, made them the most notorious armed robbers of the early 1970s. Their irresistible rise ended in 1974 with a spectacular arrest. Today, as he nears 60, Momon would like to forget that part of his life. He has found peace by retiring from the "business". He tends to his wife Janou, who suffered so in the past, and to his children and grandchildren, all of whom have great respect for this man of simple and universal values, so clear-headed and full of kindness. But then Serge Suttel, who has disowned nothing of his past, comes back into the picture. Written by
The only possible answer to the question raised in this user comment's subject line is simple and straightforward, namely: nowhere near as badass as grandpa Edmon 'Momon' Vidal in "Les Lyonnais"! Or any of his fellow gang buddies, for that matter! "Les Lyonnais" is inspired by the true story and memoirs of Momon Vidal; the poor son of gypsy parents who built himself up to the leader of a feared gang that committed numerous of violent armed robberies in the Lyon region during the sixties and early seventies. However, all the crimes and trials of that era are narrated and illustrated through flashbacks, as the film primarily takes place in 2010 and opens at the baptism party of Momon's grandson. For the past 25 years he has lived a luxurious and relatively honest life, but now his oldest and dearest friend Serge is in trouble. Serge is apprehended by the police, but prison is full of henchmen of the crime boss that he double-crossed. Since friendship is the most important value to Momon, he organizes a plan to help Serge even though he very well realizes this will bring him right back to his old criminal habits. Given the nature of the plot, protagonist characters and a handful of significant sequences (like for example the baptism), "Les Lyonnais" is inevitably reminiscent to "The Godfather" and like many other reviews so unmistakably state clear not as good. Yeah well, so what? Hardly any movie is as good as "The Godfather", but that doesn't stand in the way of "Les Lyonnais" being an extremely intense and absorbing thriller with many brutal sequences, tight atmosphere and stellar performances. The main trumps of the film, apart from the charismatic ensemble cast, are the realistic brotherhood portrayals and the swift transitions between the gang's activities in the '60s and present day. During the flashbacks, being a criminal and kick- starting violent gang wars is glorified quite blatantly, but the script also clearly criticizes the contemporary French juridical system. Momon and Serge initially just were two harmless young troublemakers, but they rolled into the criminal life after they were sentenced to six months in prison for stealing a handful of cherries (which aptly also is the title of Edmond Vidal's memories). The flashbacks are the most entertaining parts of the film, since they seem to come straight out those primarily Italian & French euro-crime/Poliziotteschi movies from the seventies; which happens to be my favorite cult cinema sub- genre. You know, exhilarating chases in crummy old cars, characters with gigantic mustaches, harsh drive-by shootings and relentless executions in the middle of crowded streets! The scenes set in the present day are much more sophisticated and dramatic, but they are still fast-paced and loaded with suspense. Gérard Lanvin gives away a downright phenomenal performance as Vidal, and he's brilliantly backed up by Tchéky Karyo and Daniel Duval.
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