Assigned to work alongside unethical police veterans Chris (Alexis Manenti) and Gwada (Djebril Zonga) in Paris' Anti-Crime Brigade, Brigadier Stéphane Ruiz (Damien Bonnard) - a recent transplant to the working-class suburb of Montfermeil, where Victor Hugo wrote his famous novel Les Misérables - struggles to establish a working relationship with influential community leaders while attempting to maintain some semblance of peace between his disreputable team and the citizens of the local housing projects. When what should be a simple arrest goes tragically awry, the three officers must individually reconcile with the aftermath of their actions while angling to keep the neighborhood from retaliating with mob violence. Beginning as a Cesar-winning short film, the film was inspired by the 2005 riots in Paris. It was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Jury Prize (in a tie with BACURAU) and was selected as France's entry for Best ...Written by
Les Miserables is a very well crafted movie, with excellent photography and acting, able to keep the narrative tension at good levels all along the story, with a very dramatic ending.
The reason why I left the theatre with somewhat mixed feelings is that, if the movie had the ambition to elevate itself above the pure police procedural and to offer a point of view on an extremely delicate theme like the inflammatory social, racial and religious tensions of the Paris banlieue, well on this level the movie does not deliver. Les Miserables shows more than interprets, it engages the spectator without going under the surface of the issue.
The post credit quote from Victo Hugo ("Remember this, my friends: there are not bad grass or bad men, just bad growers") just reinforced my doubts, as the movie focussed on the bad grass and not at all on the issue of "bad growers".
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