outbrain
Close  

In Cannes, ‘Les Miserables’ rings alarm for Paris suburbs

/ 01:35 PM May 17, 2019
In Cannes, 'Les Miserables' rings alarm

Actors Alexis Manenti, from left, Djebril Zonga and Damien Bonnard pose for photographers at the photo call for the film “Les Miserables” at the 72nd international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Thursday, May 16, 2019. Image: AP/Petros Giannakouris

More than 150 years after Victor Hugo’s classic novel, a French film titled “Les Miserables” gives a gritty, modern view of the Paris suburbs where Jean Valjean first met Cosette.

Ladj Ly’s “Les Miserables”, which premiered Wednesday at the Cannes Film Festival, contains no singing or romance, but rather a tough, “The Wire”-like street-level portrait of the Parisian banlieue of Montfermeil. It’s the same neighborhood where the 37-year-old Ly grew up and still lives.

ADVERTISEMENT

Ly says he made his movie as “an alarm bell” for the plight of kids growing up in neighborhoods like Montfermeil.

“For the past 20 years, we’ve said things are not going well. We have the impression no one’s listening,” said Ly. “I wanted to address a message to Emmanuel Macron, the president of the Republic. It’s important for him to see the film.”

FEATURED STORIES

“For 20 years now, we have been yellow vests,” he added, referencing the ongoing protests of working-class French. “We’ve been demanding our rights for the past 20 years. We’ve had to cope with police violence for over 20 years.”

“Les Miserables”, which is competing for the top Palme d’Or prize in Cannes, shows the Paris suburbs as a combustible powder keg, where neighborhood gang leaders and overanxious police are in a constant dance. Much of Ly’s film revolves around the young kids growing up in the housing projects.

In 2015, the Paris banlieue of Clichy-sous-Bois exploded in riots that put an international spotlight on the lives of immigrants and French-Africans in the areas surrounding Paris.

“One shouldn’t forget that three-fourths of the people who live in these housing estates are French,” said Ly. “Now we have the impression that there are different classifications of citizenship. But we’re just French full stop, so accept us as French, full stop.”

Other recent films have sought to capture the reality of the banlieues, including “La Haine” and “Dheepan”, which won the Palme d’Or in 2015. “Les Miserables”, Ly’s feature directing debut, drew largely strong reviews in Cannes for its muscular genre work and passionate social commentary.

“One century later, misery, abject poverty is still present in these housing estates,” said Ly. CC

RELATED STORIES: 

ADVERTISEMENT

Elle Fanning, Yorgos Lanthimos join Inarritu’s Cannes jury 

Who’s who on the Cannes film festival jury 

Read Next
EDITORS' PICK
MOST READ
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Cannes Film Festival, France, Ladj Ly, Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.


© Copyright 1997-2020 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.