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Monday, February 23, 2015

THE CONNECTION (LA FRENCH)


By D.E.Levine

A Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2015 Selection

This tale of the European side of the French Connection saga that William Friedkin fictionalized and turned into a classic in 1976 is fascinating but not as exciting.

Headed by Jean Dujardin who plays magistrate Pierre Michel, a dedicated police officer reassigned from Metz to Marseilles where a mafia type gangster Gaetan Zampa (Gilles Lellouche), has the police and the court officials cowering in terror.

Michel cracked the case and to this day not all the details regarding how he did it are known.  Directed by Cedric Jimenez, who grew up in Marseilles when all of this was taking place, the film is interesting and entertaining but misses the excitement that was found in the American film The French Connection.

Dujardin is convincing as the dedicated police officer with a dark history of gambling addiction who switches his obsession to capturing the bad guys.  Michel (Dujardin) and Zampa (Lellouche) look amazingly alike, which is not by accident.  Whether Jimenez wanted to convey a similarity or inability to distinguish between how the good and the bad guy looks, he's accomplished this feat.

Unfortunately, while showing that the French were actively involved in fighting the international heroin problem, the film doesn't have a happy ending.  The melancholy turn the story takes is at once unexpected and unrepairable.