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Director:          Romain Gavras

Stars:              Karim Leklou, Isabelle Adjani, Vincent Cassel

Running time: 102 mins

Ratings:           IMDB                       6.4    (IMDB score is weighted average of audience scores out of 10)

             Rotten Tomatoes     95%  (Rotten Tomatoes score is % of professional critic reviews that are




 Movie Trailer:





The lengths one man will go to in order to secure the exclusive rights to sell Mister Freeze ice pops to the overheated denizens of north African is the driving force behind this chirpy gangster comedy from French promo man, Romain Gavras. It’s a film which skirts a fine line between depicting the inherent dangers of entering into the hard-bitten world of gangsterism, while also mocking the pettiness and stupidity of many of its key archetypes.

François (Karim Leklou) is a push-around guy, a lovable prank monkey who embraces the idea of legitimacy but does’t quite have the intellectual wiles to succeed on those terms. In order to drum up some seed capital for his ice pop dreams, he agrees to oversee a drug deal in a slick Spanish beach resort, convinced by maniac mobster Poutine (Sofian Khammes) that the whole thing will be an absolute cakewalk, a model of sedate professionalism and seriousness. And he’s very wrong about that. Fist fights, public humiliation, sly bargaining and a bungled kidnap are all part of this supposedly simple plan.

Though the film recalls the sun-bleached Floridian environs of Brian De Palma’s cult classic Scarface (of which the title is a direct reference), this perhaps has more in common with the mockney wideboy capers made by Guy Ritchie before he was subsumed as a franchise journeyman for the studios.

While the persistently naffed-off François doesn’t make for the most endearing central character, Gavras is generous when it comes to filling out the film with eccentric bit-parters and all bring their own combustible energy to the brew. There’s one scene in which a pair of diminutive French henchmen – both with their eyes on secretly toppling the boss and taking over the rackets – pull up their car while one films the other throwing punches at a group of bemused English tourists which is very funny in its total randomness.

The real treasure, though, is the return of the great Isabelle Adjani, who relishes the role of François’ annoyingly interventionist mother, Danny. With none of the airs and graces of your typical French grande dame, she still manages to steal every scene in which she appears. She lives in a dingy apartment block, but presents herself to the world as if she’s married to a Saudi prince.

Just the strange juxtaposition of this mob mama consorting with dim-witted hoods while kitted out in flamboyant haute couture would have been enough, but she brings a physical comic fire and careworn humanity to this mother who just wants to prevent her son from failing without having to tell him he’s a born fuck-up.

It’s fun, light and maybe a little empty, but the film is powered by some enjoyably daft caricatures and ends up saying that even when does pay, there are unseen costs a-plenty when the cash does finally roll in.


David Jenkins

Little White Lies