2019 / crime, drama, thriller / 1h 42min / directed by Ladj Ly / country: France / language: French / subtitles: English

Les misérables (2019)

Inspired by the 2005 riots in Paris, Les Misérables – directed by Ladj Ly – follows Stéphane (Damien Bonnard), a recent transplant to the impoverished suburb of Montfermeil, as he joins the local anti-crime squad. Working alongside his unscrupulous colleagues Chris (Alexis Manenti) and Gwada (Djebril Zonga), 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.

“Pointedly repurposing the title of Victor Hugo’s classic novel about the laws of nature and grace, Ladj Ly’s “Les Misérables” bears little outward resemblance to the epic story of Jean Valjean and his stolen loaf of bread. But Ly’s first narrative feature — a gripping and grounded procedural that probes the tensions between Paris’ anti-crime police and the poor Muslim population they torment and suppress — revisits the French suburb of Montfermeil in the present day, and finds that little has changed in the 150 years since Hugo first characterized the strife he saw through his bedroom window.” -David Ehrlich, Indiewire

“The film benefits from vivid action captured by Julien Poupard’s mobile, pacey camerawork, notably in a full-on chase scene, and from charismatic performances from unknowns, notably young Perica, whose Issa finally achieves a compelling iconic status.” -Jonathan Romney, ScreenDaily

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