- 1h 44m
A translator working for the police gets involved in the other side of drug dealing.A translator working for the police gets involved in the other side of drug dealing.A translator working for the police gets involved in the other side of drug dealing.
At its core, this film is a crime thriller, following the exploits of a police interpreter who comes from a family of drug runners, being given the opportunity and choosing to break bad. It runs through all the noir and dramatic tropes. A by the number's cops and robber's tale, with doomed romances and violent standoffs abound. What makes The Godmother unique is that while it uses every cliches in the book, it subverts every one of them. Showing a truly honest reflection of reality, viewers are treated to the rarely seen truth behind the criminal mythos. No one really knows what they are doing. The police aren't just relentless machines of justice, hunting down their hapless prey, they are regular old people, just doing a job and trying to help. Drug runners aren't violent perverts, they are often just kids trying to get by. Even those higher up on the chain don't sit around a warehouse smoking cigars and plotting evil. They take care of their families and hang out with their friends. They run a business the same way any regional manager does. Even our protagonist (Expertly played by Isabelle Huppert), for all that she runs circles around the police, keeps the gangs in line, and makes herself into a criminal boss to be feared, she is just a middle-aged mother, trying to keep my family together and deal with the same life struggles as everyone else.
Jean-Paul Salomé is unafraid to let each situation play out with brutal honesty. He lets interactions become awkward and strained. Romantic gestures go unnoticed and miscommunication runs rampart. There are no seamless handovers, each side walking away without counting the money. There is no honour among thieves and super geniuses don't hang around dark alleys selling weed. The crime is still crime, people get hurt and their actions are inexcusable, but that doesn't mean they aren't understandable. The Godmother walks the tightrope of showing each side of the law, warts and all, without glorifying or vilifying either. There are no heroes or villains in this story, just police and criminals, going about their lives, trying to get though the day.
There are many who take offense to the idea that the people in jail are just as human and relatable as them. Those people are unlikely to enjoy Rialto Distribution's latest offering. For everyone else, or even just those willing to go in with an open mind, The Godmother is a funny, sad, ridiculous look at realism, and well worth your time.
- May 7, 2021