First-time feature director Ladj Ly caused a stir at Cannes with this knockout debut, a thrilling and socially resonant crime drama set in Paris’s poorest suburbs.
Taking its cue from the drone camera that figures prominently throughout, Les Misérables zooms in and out of the stories of a sprawling cast of characters—cops and residents, hardened criminals and rambunctious kids—as their paths collide over the course of an explosive day of violence. Newly transferred cop Stéphane (Damien Bonnard, PFF25’s Staying Vertical) is starting his first day patrolling the crime-ridden outlying suburb of Montfermeil. He’s paired with racist cop Chris (Alexis Manenti) and his slightly more scrupulous partner Gwada (Djebril Zonga), both of whom rely on questionable tactics to maintain relative peace with the various volatile factions that control the projects. This shaky harmony disintegrates over the course of Stéphane’s first day on the job, as a series of incidents causes the neighborhood to erupt into violence and put the three policemen on their guard. Though not a straightforward adaptation of the Victor Hugo classic, Les Misérables shares the novel’s furious concern for the neglected citizens of Paris’s poorest districts, whose lives are still marked by poverty and police brutality 150 years later.
CAST: DAMIEN BONNARD, ALEXIS MANENTI, DJEBRIL ZONGA, ISSA PERICA
In Competition: First Feature Award
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