Contemporary World Cinema
SIFF Says:Shot on 35mm film and starring Academy Award®-winner Jean Dujardin (THE ARTIST), THE CONNECTION acts as an unofficial expansion to 1971’s THE FRENCH CONNECTION. However, while William Friedkin’s police thriller successfully told a thinly fictionalized account of New York detectives Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso—renamed Popeye Doyle and Cloudy Russo for the film—as they took on the largest heroin operation in the world, that’s only one part of the decades- and continents-spanning story. On the other side of the pond, it’s 1975, and Marseilles-based magistrate Pierre Michel (Dujardin) has just been promoted out of juvenile court and into criminal investigations. First on his docket: take on the smuggling syndicate, known as “La French,” that is threatening to turn his town into a drug-ridden hellscape. His target: the seemingly untouchable Neapolitan crime lord Tany Zampa (Gilles Lellouche, TELL NO ONE). Unfortunately, conventional manners of police work do little to further Michel’s case, and the magistrate must resort to legally questionable means to get his man. In contrast to Friedkin’s gritty procedural realism, director Cédric Jimenez has chosen a lush period technique, approaching the labyrinthine ensemble narrative with the panache of a Gallic Scorsese at the top of his game.
: How it took them this long to do the French response to The French Connection
is a puzzler, but it’s good they waited for Jean Dujardin as long as they were waiting. Fueled and felled by the same fetish for American policiers
, this is nonetheless as great a vehicle for Dujardin as William Friedkin’s original was for Gene Hackman. (SEAN NELSON)
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