The officers working to protect children in Paris form a close-knit team that deals with huge pressures every day. To survive requires a cynical sense of humour, a fiery dose of righteous rage and an ability to hold your drink on stress-releasing nights out. This kind of police work demands full attention and a lot of passion, but it also takes a personal toll: Nadine (Viard) has left her husband for her colleague Iris (Fois), and Fred (Starr) is both infuriated by and attracted to team photographer Melissa (Maiwenn).
The film is shot in an intimate style, with the cameras right in the faces of the cops as they banter in the office, let off steam after hours and dive into seriously tense situations, including a dawn raid on a gypsy camp and an undercover operation in a shopping mall. They talk nonstop, which makes reading the subtitles sometimes exhausting, especially as they dive into heated arguments about politics, policing methods and personal issues.
But throughout the talky chaos, the skilled cast is able to create complex, engaging characters, letting us understand the real-life strains these people live with. There isn't a weak performance in the film, and that includes a large number of child actors playing victims in the most horrific situations imaginable (including a couple of heart-wrenchingly emotive sequences), plus the adults who are accused of terrible crimes against them.
Nothing is ever simplified, so the film doesn't have a traditional narrative structure. It's an extended slice-of-life covering nearly a year, which means that it's rather meandering and aimless. This leaves it feeling much longer than its extended running time. Even though there are potent sequences along the way, as well as some underlying plot threads that take surprising turns, it takes a lot of patience to stay focussed through it all. In the end we're relieved we don't have to face this kind of thing in our everyday life. But we're sure glad someone does.
Run time: 127 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 19th October 2011
Box Office USA: $0.2M
Distributed by: IFC Films
Production compaines: Les Productions du Trésor, Mars Film Corporation, Chaocorp, Shortcom
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Fresh: 67 Rotten: 10
IMDB: 7.3 / 10
Producer: Alain Attal
Screenwriter: Maiwenn, Emmanuelle Bercot
Starring: Karin Viard as Nadine, Joey Starr as Fred, Marina Fois as Iris, Nicolas Duvauchelle as Mathieu, Maïwenn as Melissa, Karole Rocher as Chrys, Emmanuelle Bercot as Sue Ellen, Frédéric Pierrot as Balloo, Arnaud Henriet as Bamako, Naidra Ayadi as Nora, Jérémie Elkaïm as Gabriel, Riccardo Scamarcio as Francesco, Sandrine Kiberlain as Mme de la Faublaise, Wladimir Yordanoff as Beauchard, Louis-Do de Lencquesaing as M. de la Faublaise, Laurent Bateau as Hervé, le mari de Nadine, Carole Franck as Céline, Anne Suarez as Alice, Audrey Lamy as Mère Indigne, Sophie Cattani as Mère Droguée, Marcial Di Fonzo Bo as Le prof de gym, Anthony Delon as Alex, Riton Liebman as Franck, Alice de Lencquesaing as Sandra, Nathalie Boutefeu as La mère de Sandra, Alain Attal as Marc, Maëva Pasquali as Estelle, Lou Doillon as Soeur Melissa, Bine Sarambounou as La mère d'Ousman, Luna Turcat as Sophie de la Faublaise, Carla Guffroy as Marie, Gaye Sarambounou as Ousman, Malonn Lévana as Dolorès, Emmanuel Gayet as Denis, Valérie de Monza as La juge, Wendy Nieto as Marilyn, Nina Rodriguez as Fille Balloo, Elise Amblard as Ado gothique, Alexandre Carrière as Père Dolorès, Laurence Arrouy as Médecin accouchement, Albert Igual as Papy Marie, Hervé Temime as Substitut du procureur, Amina Annabi as Mère de Melissa, Manon Tournier as Ado portable, Maïlys Amrous as Ado webcam, Joseph Créhange as Solal
Also starring: Nicholas Duvauchelle
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