La French

La F
click to view trailer

After two hours of sand, vehicle collisions, road battles and Tom Hardy speaking 76 words, Mad Max was over. It was two of the best hours I’d ever seen on screen and Charlize Theron reminded the world why she’s an academy award winner. Her depiction of Imperator Furiosa was the moral foundation of the movie and pivotal to any resonance of a story line. It’s a film about spectacle, not an evolved plot but it deserves all the critical acclaim it’s received. When I had friends visiting in town who had yet to see it, I didn’t hesitate to catch Mad Max again. This post is not a review of Mad Max plenty of people have written about it already, this is a review of a preview I saw watching it a second time. It was not my first time seeing this movie preview but it was my first time seeing it on the big screen. My initial excitement for this upcoming gangster movie was reignited. Straight out of 1975 Marseille, France upcoming film The Connection astonishes in its exhilarating trailer. One filled with beautiful scenery of the French coast, assassinations, gangsters in clubs, and a Police Magistrate on a mission. Originally titled La French this film promises brutal action, drama, heroin trafficking, high-end suits, 1970s France and an epic score comprised of boisterous symphonies. All great staples of a classic action film and with the utmost respect to French cinema I’m elated this film has finally hit American theatres.

Tany and Michel
Police Magistrate Pierre Michel in the center. Syndicate leader Gaetan “Tany” Zampa on the right.

Shots of two people on a motorcycle speeding down the road open the preview. A person on the back of the motorcycle unloads gunfire into a vehicle, killing the driver. Cut to newsreels and the trailer establishes the world in which the film explores. A heroin metropolis based in Marseille, France is fueling the drugs proliferation throughout the globe. Multiple cuts display the immense quantities of heroin and wealth that is being moved. Our first glimpse of the villainous Kingpin is set as he provides his passport for customs. The character is Gaëtan ‘Tany’ Zampa and Gilles Lellouche does his portrayal. Before the protagonist is introduced an “inspired by real events” text covers the screen. Police Magistrate Pierre Michel is then seen interviewing a young heroin addict and yelling that her addiction will ultimately kill her. Pierre Michel is played by Jean Dujardin an Oscar winner for his role in The Artist and is also featured in The Wolf of Wall Street. Immediately after his introduction in the trailer the audience is informed he’s been transferred from Juvenile to work Organized Crime.

french connect
There’s a new sheriff in town

Our new Police Magistrate takes little time to make his presence felt in Marseille. A no holds bar approach to justice, it’s clear Michel is determined to bring down the leader of the syndicate in Zampa. Another dose of action sequences paint the screen as the body count increases with the nefarious affairs of the heroin underworld. What is different from the opening action shots is that the police seem to be shelling out as much brutality in its efforts to thwart the French Connection. The effects are clear as news commentators discuss the dozens of arrests the new Magistrate has dealt. Michel is the man on everybody’s mind. A momentary sequence when Zampa sees a car passing by his and immediately pulls out a gun marvelously depicts the pressure Michel is putting on the syndicate. Of course our protagonist has to be flawed to fuel his campaign and halfway through the trailer his own victims are presented.

Laf actresses
Jacqueline Michel on the left and Christiane Zampa on the right.

A man driven to free France from the grips of one of the most powerful drug rings in the world indeed has a neglected wife at home. Someone has to be concerned about Pierre Michel and his wife Jacqueline Michel is trying to reason with her husband who’s taking on an immense amount of risk. Jacqueline played by Céline Sallette recognizes that her husband is in extreme danger with his vendetta against trafficking. She’s at her wits end and may not stay with her husband if he continues down this path. Mélanie Doutey plays Christiane Zampa and even though she had no dialogue in the trailer her role as female counterpart to “Tany” Zampa appears integral to the film. Near the end of the trailer Michel is seen screaming in a phone booth demanding to speak with Jacqueline. As far as the Zampa’s go, their matrimony appears stable throughout the preview. A shot of the two on a boat heading towards the shore displays that this matrimony may be the harmonious one of the film.

the connection PM

What is clear almost immediately is that this movie will be entirely in French. Of the many talents I don’t have, speaking French is at the top of the list. In recent weeks however I’ve been trying to make a concerted effort to read more. Foreign films get me reading and I’m less critical of the acting as I don’t understand what they’re saying without text support. Do I think The Connection will be the next classic? Probably not, reviews out of the films Cannes premiere last year were lackluster. But I am not those reviewers and my tastes vastly differ from those invited to the Cannes Film Festival. Maybe I just have a soft spot for trailers with stunning music. The melancholy track titled “Bang Bang” performed by Sheila provides the trailer with an active pulse that rises and climaxes with the trailer. Cedric Jimenez the Director of The Connection has made editing alterations to the film since its international premiere and I’m optimistic it improved the final product. The film was set to premiere May 15th in the U.S and is just now reaching major theaters. I’m fully invested into this movie and I’m excited to see the French point of view in regards to the infamous history of the French Connection.

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