Date Showing Showing On 15, 17, 18 March
Time Showing Monday 6pm, Wednesday 4pm & 6.30pm and Thursday 6pm

Les Misérables

MA15+ 1hrs 44mins
crime | 2019, France
Overview

Inspired by the 2005 riots in Paris, Stéphane, a recent transplant to the impoverished suburb of Montfermeil, joins the local anti-crime squad. Working alongside his unscrupulous colleagues Chris and Gwada, Stéphane struggles to maintain order amidst the mounting tensions between local gangs. When an arrest turns unexpectedly violent, the three officers must reckon with the aftermath and keep the neighborhood from spiraling out of control.

Warnings

Strong coarse language

Director
Ladj Ly
Original Review
David Bradley, Adelaide Review
Extracted By
Mark Horner
Featuring
Damien Bonnard, Alexis Manenti, Djebril Zonga

Watch The Trailer

Les Misérables Trailer

Storyline (warning: spoilers)

Mali-born director Ladj Ly’s decision to borrow the title of Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel for his sweaty feature debut might seem odd, but there are indeed connections between that apparently archaic text and this scarily contemporary saga. Partially set in the Montfermeil district where Hugo set the book, this also features similar themes of vengeance and the persecution of the poor, and it concludes with a Hugo quote that could have been penned yesterday.

Drawn from Ly’s 2017 short film and a factual case from 2008 (which he witnessed and filmed), we open in 2018 after the French team won the FIFA World Cup, a moment of national solidarity, and then follow events shortly afterwards that demonstrate the exact opposite.

A new police officer, Stéphane Ruiz (Damien Bonnard), joins squad leader Chris (Alexis Manenti) and brigadier Gwada (Djebril Zonga) in Montfermeil, and is cruelly nicknamed ‘Greaser’. Chris plays power games with local teens, and while Gwada disapproves, he does nothing, although Stéphane grows increasingly uncomfortable. Elaborate circumstances then have a local kid, Issa (Issa Perica), commit a theft, which leads to aggressive circus owner Zorro(Raymond Lopez) threatening to attack an apartment block guarded by ‘The Mayor’ (Steve Tientcheu) in a sequence that’s stressful to watch with all of its improvised yelling.

When a small riot breaks out between the kids and the cops, someone naturally gets hurt, and this is filmed by young Buzz (Al-Hassan Ly), who previously just wanted to peep at girls, but suddenly finds himself targeted as we reach a series of dangerous flashpoints. And yes, it’s hard not to think that this plot thread seems to prophesise the murder of George Floyd in the US, and the resultant near burning-down of the country. A wild, unruly and disturbing experience, cast mostly with untested unknowns, this is nevertheless an important film, and surely Victor Hugo would have greatly approved. And don’t worry: no one sings.

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