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Les Misérables


Year: 2019 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Ladj Ly 
Starring: Djilbril Zonga, Sofia Lesaffre, Damien Bonnard  

The Academy Award nominated Les Misérables is director Ladj Ly’s first non-documentary feature film and is inspired by a real life case of police violence filmed by Ly in 2008. The film, set in the commune of Montfermeil, in the Parisian suburbs, is dominated by an accurate depiction of poverty-induced violence and rebellion, but also of police abuses against the poor, especially against inhabitants of non-French ethnicities. The film also presents references to Victor Hugo’s novel with the same name, as Montfermeil is the place where Jean Valjean meets Cosette and the ending of the film shows a quote from the book.

The film with the celebration of the French win of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, an image of brotherhood. Although we see the story from the point of view of Brigadier Stéphane Ruiz (Damien Bonnard), the main character of the film is a troubled teenager named Issa, who steals a circus lion cub. While on the run, he ends up being shot by Ruiz’s partner. After the incident, Issa and his friends start attacking the police, which leads to an incredibly tense and thrilling ending.

The film has been praised for its accuracy, which has raised again the problem of poverty in city suburbs. The film also won the Jury Prize of the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and four César Awards.

Sabina Bonciu

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Screenings of this film:

2020/2021 Autumn Term (digital)