The Connection

Two things: 1) I never saw the original "French Connection" with Gene Hackman, so I'm a "Connection" virgin. 2) If you thought the many awards including Jean Dujardin's Best Actor Oscar in 2012 for "The Artist" was a fluke, you must see "La French" (English captions). Don't let the movie-star looks fool you, this guy can act!

This Action/Thiller is loosely based on actual events when drug kingpins from Marseilles moved into power. I hesitate to call it a remake of the American version because I understand there are significant differences, but if you wish to do so, please be my guest. By the way, "La French" is slang for what we might call "The Mafia."

Writer-Director Cédric Jimenez takes us to the mid-70s, where we see children playing with an Etch-a-Sketch and hear a vocalist sing (in French) These Boots Were Made for Walkin'. He shows us two powerful men, one a law-enforcement officer and the other his arch rival, a drug lord, locked in a powerful conflict between good and evil. Both are devoted family men, with wives they adore and children they indulge. Neither man will budge.

The cast includes:
  • Jean Dujardin ("The Monuments Men") is Pierre Michel, recently promoted to Magistrate in the Organized Crime division, highly motivated because he had previously worked with drug-addicted youth. He has a wife and two darling daughters. The stakes are higher now than they were when he was a gambler.
  • Gilles Lellouche ("Tell No One") is Gaëtan 'Tany' Zampa, who holds himself above the chaos his enterprise has created, he leaves the dirty work to his henchmen. This handsome fellow prefers to stay at home with his beloved family; he has never been arrested.
There are assorted wives, sidekicks, associates, hit men and drug dealers; we watch cocaine being produced, packaged and concealed for export. We also see it distributed on American streets to the addicts it has created.

This is a well-crafted movie with a complicated R-rated plot that never confuses. We have people to loathe, even while we understand them; and we have people to root for, even while we fear for them. It has cold-blooded murders, betrayals and brutal beatings. I'm not a fan of this genre, but I was so impressed by Dujardin, I became totally engrossed.
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