THE CONNECTION (France/Belgium/15A/135mins)
Directed by Cedric Jimenez. Starring Jean Dujardin, Gilles Lellouche, Celine Sallette, Melanie Doutey, Benoit Magimel, Guillaume Gouix.
THE PLOT: Marseilles, 1975, and juvenile-court magistrate Pierre Michel (Dujardin) is being promoted to heading up organised crime investigations. And top of his list, given his experience with young heroin addicts, is apparently untouchable druglord Gaetano Zampa (Lellouche). Progress is slow though, and when a close friend dies of an overdose, Michel decides that it’s time to break a few rules too in order to get his man. Just who is working for whom becomes an issue though as Michel gets closer and closer, the cloud of corruption inside the force being just as much a hindrance as Zampa’s well-oiled elusiveness.
THE VERDICT: Taking place a few years after New York cop Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman) broke a few rules, and bones, in THE FRENCH CONNECTION double-bill, Jimenez’s beautifully-constructed true-life tale covers another chapter in this decades-long, cross-Atlantic drug-smuggling saga. Jimenez grew up in Marseilles with Michel as a local legend, and his deep-rooted childhood fascination with Michel comes across here, the personal connection seemingly sparking new life into this very familiar genre. It’s a very fair cops and robbers, Guv.
RATING: 4/5
Review by Paul Byrne

The Connection
Review by Paul Byrne
4.0Beautifully constructed
  • filmbuff2011

    Cedric Jimenez’s 70’s-set French thriller The Connection owes more than a few debts to Michael Mann and William Friedkin. Loosely inspired by real events, it’s a companion piece of sorts to Friedkin’s The French Connection, but this time told from the French perspective. Marseille, 1975. Cop Pierre (Jean Dujardin) is promoted from working on juvenile crime and helping drug addicts to a police magistrate, responsible for tackling organised crime. Specifically, he’s tasked with tackling Marseille’s thriving drug trade and crime organisation La French, whose product also ends up on the mean streets of New York. Unable to reach the head of octopus, Gaetan (Gilles Lellouche), he instead goes for the tentacles and starts arresting, interrogating and imprisoning Gaetan’s employees and associates. This brings him into direct conflict with Gaetan, with whom he has a tense but civilised hillside exchange. As Pierre increases his squeeze on La French over the years, this puts increasing pressure on his marriage, as well as on his resources. This is going to be a battle of wills and a war of attrition for both men, who firmly believe in what they’re doing and will stop at nothing to achieve success… The Connection is a classy policier, a style of French cop thriller that distinguishes it from its more obvious American counterpart. For the most part, it feels very French and cool, but the influence of Mann’s Heat is certainly felt too. That hillside exchange between Pierre and Gaetan is the only scene in the film where the two characters directly interact. The rest of the time, they’re in their homes, offices or on the streets of Marseille or New York, keeping tabs on each other. Dujardin and Lellouche are excellent actors, doing enough solid work on their own to not need to be facing each other every 20 minutes. The harsh reality of being married to a cop is not lost on Pierre’s wife, but she remains by his side nonetheless – adding to his character. There’s little real action in the film – most of it occurs at the start and end. Instead, Jimenez concentrates on character and an intelligent look at the seedy underbelly of picturesque Marseille. The ending is not what you would call Hollywood friendly, but it feels appropriate given all that’s come before. If you love The French Connection, then The Connection is essential viewing. If you haven’t seen The French Connection, then The Connection will make you want to see it. Whichever way, you should see both films. ****

  • Martin

    Foregin films have to be very good to keep my attention and this does it well. It’s always moving and is very fast paced. The only criticism I’d give it is that it’s a story that has been done time and time again. Even though the two main leads are fantastic this movie is somewhat by the numbers and that’s a bit of a let down.