Director: Cédric Jimenez
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Gilles Lellouche, Céline Sallette
Running time: 135 minutes
Watching the opening of Cédric Jimenez’s stylish new entry into the ‘70s gangster genre, you would be forgiven for thinking that you should be drinking Blue Nun and smoking.
From the sharp suits to the facial hair and the soundtrack awash with analogue synthesiser, this film perfectly captures the setting of French police magistrate Pierre Michel’s (Jean Dujardin) cigarette-fuelled vendetta against Neopolitan gangster Gaëtan Zampa (Gilles Lellouche).
The leading men give excellent performances and Céline Sallette makes a passionate effort in a run-of-the-mill role as Pierre’s long-suffering wife. The other characters come and go, often at a rate that is difficult to follow, and the body count becomes alarming by the third act. The film’s world is grittily and energetically shot, with particular attention to the city’s coastal scenery and metropolitan atmosphere, and insights into the corruption of the period, as Zampa’s crime syndicate funnels heroin from North Africa to New York and controls many of Marseilles’ bars and nightclubs.
Though it is an enjoyable ride, The Connection never really steps outside of the bounds of typical gangster flick fodder, and with its 135 minutes running time, it is certainly flabby.
Dujardin is always engaging, but the first half of the narrative is all a little predictable.
But this might not be such a bad thing: The Connection lives and breathes its setting, and succeeds in entertaining partly because it is genuinely thrilling to inhabit that time period, albeit for slightly too long.