The annual City of Lights, City of Angels Film Festival got off to thought-provoking and impressive start with the debut of Ladj Ly’s politically-charged film, Les Misérables.
The film is part Training Day (the Denzel Washington classic), part Victor Hugo classic and all nightmarish.
The film, which made its U.S. premiere on Monday, September 23 at the newly renovated DGA Theater. – has been selected by France’s Oscar committee the official submission for the Best International Feature category to the 92nd Academy Awards.
The film, has been selected by France’s Oscar committee the official submission for the Best International Feature category to the 92nd Academy Awards, beat out Celine Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, the 18th-century-set romance which won best screenplay at Cannes.
Les Miserables, which was bought by Amazon for the U.S., earned well-deserved stellar reviews at Cannes, including in Variety, whose review said the film “simmers with urgent anger over police brutality” and compared Ly’s work to that of Spike Lee.
Ly’s film was sparked by the 2005 French riots, a three-week period of civil unrest characterized by violence, looting and car burnings.
Centering on Stéphane (Damien Bonnard), who joins the anti-crime brigade in Montfermeil, and his two partners (Alexis Manenti and Djibril Zonga), France’s Oscar entry delves into the tensions between neighborhood residents and police that helped inflame the rioting.
Montfermeil is famous as the setting of Victor Hugo’s 19th-century novel, from which the film takes its name.
After a police error, the men find themselves overrun during the course of an arrest. The last act of the film is very reminiscent of Gareth Evans’ 2011 action thriller, The Raid.
>“This film is a warning cry from me to the politicians,” he told the DGA audience during a Q&A. “And I tell them that the situation is complicated, this has been going on for 30 years, but there are always solutions.”
The film will screen again on Friday, September 27 at 5pm and the DGA box office is open. Click here for tickets.