Really po­tent pro­duc­tion

The Citizen (KZN) - - To Make Your Day - Peter Feld­man

Les Misérables is one of the most po­tent films you are likely to see this year. It’s a volatile and bril­liantly ex­e­cuted con­tem­po­rary ver­sion of Victor Hugo’s French Rev­o­lu­tion epic – and re­ceived an Oscar nod this week.

Con­sid­er­ing the ex­plo­sive po­lit­i­cal cli­mate in France at present, Les Misérables comes at an op­por­tune time and mas­ter­fully il­lus­trates the se­ri­ous dis­par­i­ties that ex­ist within the French so­cial sys­tem and the cru­cial role the po­lice play in mon­i­tor­ing the un­fold­ing vi­o­lence and in­tim­i­da­tion that oc­cur.

Their role is a sen­si­tive one – yet di­rec­tor Ladj Ly, a Mali-born French film­maker, throws light on how a few cor­rupt and vi­o­lent cops help fer­ment the al­ready un­just sys­tem for their own gain.

Cor­po­ral Stéphane Ruiz (Damien Bon­nard), a re­served and sen­si­tive young cop, has re­cently joined the Anti-Crime unit in Mont­fer­meil, Paris, (where sec­tions of Hugo’s 1862 novel is set) from the Prov­inces.

He meets his new col­leagues, Chris (Alexis Ma­nenti) and Gwada (Dje­bril Zonga), who are both ex­pe­ri­enced mem­bers of the team, and goes on pa­trol with them.

Be­neath the ve­neer of sol­i­dar­ity and se­cu­rity is a fes­ter­ing sore that shows alarm­ing signs of rup­tur­ing at any mo­ment.

Chris is a vi­o­lent, ag­gres­sive chau­vin­ist bruiser who thrives on the adren­a­line the streets bring with it. He is known in the neigh­bour­hood as the “Pink Pig”, a nick­name he ac­tu­ally rel­ishes.

Stéphane is a more sub­dued and sen­si­tive in­di­vid­ual who has dif­fi­culty ad­just­ing to the tough meth­ods em­ployed by his col­leagues.

Pangs of con­science do re­side within his psy­che, but there will come a time dur­ing his ten­ure when he is forced to make im­por­tant choices.

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