The Little Gangster

1990 [FRENCH]

Drama

0
IMDb Rating 6.9 10 387

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Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN

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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by dbdumonteil 7 / 10

teenage riot (in Marc's mind)

In my comment on "the hairdresser's wife" (1990) by Patrice Leconte, I wrote that this gorgeous movie was awarded by the "Louis-Delluc" price with "le petit criminel" (1990). It was only right. Although I consider Jacques Doillon's movie as inferior as "the hairdresser's wife", it remains interesting and especially devoid of stereotypes linked to adolescence. A lot of directors would have focused on Marc's living conditions, it means on the hero's sociological environment. In Doillon's movie, it's not the case. In the most important part of the movie, he created a condensed and intimate atmosphere with only three characters.

Dialogs constitute the key of the success of the movie. It probably contains some of the best dialogs ever written in the French cinema. Thanks to them, Jacques Doillon draws a convincing description of each character but he especially emphasizes on their feelings and their relations. The movie is essentially built on these last two points. Never boring, rather pathetic, they create a real emotion on the spectator and sometimes they don't lack of humor.

You also feel that Doillon manages very well his actors who are perfectly at ease in their respective roles: Gérard Thomassin in an unhappy teenager who's clumsily searching someone to love and understand him. Then, there's Clotilde Courau in a protective sister and above all Richard Anconina, a cop torn between two feelings: his sense of duty and the complicity he shows towards his two partners. I think it's his best role and it's clear that he's between the hands of a conscientious and rigorous director.

Perhaps, there's one sole weakness: the music that often appears at awkward moments.

But apart from this, "le petit criminel" is a warm, fair and mastered movie.

Reviewed by PoppyTransfusion 8 / 10

Jacques Doillon: Master director of children (slight spoilers)

This is the third film by Doillon that I've seen; the others being Ponette (1996) and Petit Freres (1999). In each of his films he has shown a sensitivity to children and how the world of relationships and adults look and feel to them. He has demonstrated also his ability to elicit authentic and poignant performances from his child actors.

Le Petit Criminel has a simple plot: A teenager discovers a sister he thought was dead is in fact alive and well and living with their father. He, therefore, sets out to visit and meet her. Along the way he robs a chemist to acquire money needed for the journey. Afterwards he bumps into a police officer to whom he is well known for petty crimes. In his panic he pulls a gun on the police officer and forces him to drive him to his sister's home where a reunion of sorts occurs.

As the other reviewer has noted the film excels in the dialogue and relationships drawn between le petit criminel (Marc), the cop (Gerard) and Marc's sister (Nathalie). The film doesn't seek to explain the characters outside of what we, and they, learn about one another over the course of a 36-hour period although we are given a little of Marc's situation before the drama begins. Nonetheless we learn a lot about them thus demonstrating how it is possible to draw close to someone if attention is paid to what they say, how they say it and how they seem/feel.

One of the film elements I found most compelling was the portrayal of violence. The violence is tawdry, almost mundane; it does not aim to shock or thrill. When Marc robs the chemist, the sale assistant's fear is palpable in what she says. When Marc pulls the gun on the police officer, the latter remains calm and professional, whilst Marc's breathing indicates accelerated anxiety. In such moments one asks 'why?' For both the victim and the perpetrator. The viewer is left to make of Marc and his actions what they will; they are not justified or apologised for and yet his behaviour and how he sees the world makes it difficult to condemn him.

The film's end resolves the situation that brought Marc, Gerard and Nathalie together. Each appears changed by what has happened. Their fates, however, are not concluded and one is left with a sense that they have stood at the edges of personal precipices; whether or not they fall is left ambiguous, as this is not the film's concern.

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