Arriving in France from Israel in 1968, the Maimons join scores of other Algerian and Tunisian Jewish families in Paris' burgeoning Belleville district. Good-hearted Felix (Gad Elmaleh) ...
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Arriving in France from Israel in 1968, the Maimons join scores of other Algerian and Tunisian Jewish families in Paris' burgeoning Belleville district. Good-hearted Felix (Gad Elmaleh) reluctantly begins a life of crime to provide for his wife Mireille (Yael Abecassis) and sons, until he meets Sephardi gangster Serge (Richard Berry), from the same village as Mireille. Serge treats the Maïmons as kin, but has bigger plans for Felix's criminal career.
Although based on the director's childhood memories,the movie looks like the thirties melodramas ,if we forget the Jews' traditions.The quality of the playing reinforces this feeling.
A Jewish family arrives in France where the father finds it hard to feed his family.He meets the local godfather who will be his evil genius: soon he' s part of his hold-up men gang and winds up in jail;the mother has to take care of her unfortunate family;her husband never talked up about his "activities".
Good sequences :
The little hideaway where the children keep their "treasures".
-The free-for-all in the apartment,during the projection of a movie showing Israel's willpower .
-The kiddish ceremony ,to the sound of Mike Brant's (the late singer who was himself a Jew) " Qui Pourra Me Dire?"
-The final runaway/godfather confrontation,as imagined by Michel,and then as it really happened .
Marco Carmel does not forget humor: he shows both sons hiding comics in their Torah ;the grandma in awe of teenage idol Mike Brant.
Richard Berry ,one of the greatest contemporary French actors is absolutely excellent as Serge ,a very ambiguous character:when the movie ends,it's almost impossible to tell whether he is a double- face villain or a "brother" who really wants to help his fellow man.
Gad Elmaleh is quite credible as this naive easily influenced man who really loves his family:note how the judge has no mercy (or so little) on the poor immigrant when he loses his mamma .
Let's not forget Yael Abecassis's restrained portrayal of the worthy mother (see how she reacts to Serge's words:"you're young and beautiful ,so you could make a lot of money".)
With a sense of decency,Marco Carmel shows how,abetted by Serge ,Michel could become his father without a sound .
An underrated movie,worth watching.
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