Venice Review: Romain Gavras • 2022 • Venice Film Festival

(AFP) – Venice Romain Gavras’s movie about riots in Paris’s poor suburbs, civil war breaks out quickly, but don’t ask the director to take a side in the violence in France’s tough “banlieues.”

Romain Gavras • 2022 • Venice Film Festival

Gavras told AFP at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday, “It’s not a movie about police against young people.” He also said that he didn’t think his movie was a political statement.

A French director imagines a youth uprising in one of the many rough high-rise neighborhoods around urban centers as a Greek tragedy. This gives one of France’s most difficult social problems weight and a sense of timelessness.

In the style of 1995’s “La Haine” and 2019’s “Les Misérables,” “Athena” gives us a front-row seat inside the explosive suburbs as they careen toward chaos for a fast-paced 24 hours, with tragic results.

“I don’t think I make films with a message; I think I try to get people to feel something,” said Gavras, whose father, Costa-Gavras, was a very political filmmaker.

“You feel more moved when you work with emotions and symbols,” he said.

For decades, France has attempted to integrate its bleak housing projects, which are mostly populated by first- and second-generation immigrants of various races.

Since the “banlieues” have been ignored for a long time and have high unemployment and few opportunities, there is often social unrest and tension with the police, which is made worse by times when the police are harsh.


Not even a minute into Gavras’s movie, everything goes crazy.

The young people in the projects of Paris are angry that a police officer hurt one of their own, so they attack a police station.

Gavras doesn’t let up on the tension from the moment the first molotov cocktail is thrown. He captures the euphoria, fear, recklessness, and danger as the situation gets out of hand.

At the heart of the drama is the story of three brothers and how they deal with tragedy in different ways.
Dali Benssalah plays Abdel, a soldier who goes back to his troubled neighborhood to go to his brother’s funeral. Sami Slimane, his younger brother Karim, and a new neighbor named Karim stop him from making things better in his neighborhood.

As the violence gets worse, Mokhtar (Ouassini Embarek), the older brother, is focused on keeping his drug business going.

Gavras said, “This anger in the family spreads to a group of people, a neighborhood, and a country.”

Images in the movie, like the young rioters, stripped down to their waists and kneeling in front of the police, or the police throwing tear gas canisters into crowds of protesters from close range, are very similar to what happened recently in France.

Gavras said that it wasn’t his job to say what should be done to stop the cycle of violence.

Gavras said, “I make pictures. I don’t have a solution, and I’m not a politician. “

He also said, “I don’t know if movies can stop the anger.”

“On the other hand, giving a glimpse of a dark future, as Greek tragedy does, is interesting.”


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