La Ville Est Tranquille


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The title is ironic, of course. Marseille is portrayed as a city of despair. In the category of Life Sucks, this movie scores high points.

It's an ensemble piece, in which men are alcoholic, cynical, pathetic or violent and women are abused, trapped, courageous or unfulfilled. The only person with an iota of moral certitude is a black man with musical aspirations, who has just come out of prison. He has a small part and doesn't hang around too long.

The central story concerns a worker in the fish market, whose junkie prostitute single-parent daughter can't handle baby care. Dysfunction does not even describe this degree of hopelessness.

Marseille is going through changes. Dockers are being laid off, with the unions demanding strike action and far right political parties in the ascendance. And yet there is no feeling of a better future ahead. There is no feeling of a better anything.

Robert Guediguian's unhappy film lacks direction, or purpose. To show that the dawn of the millennium looks more like the end of civilisation hardly justifies two hours of unmitigated depression.

If the director is having a hard time watching the idealism of his youth die from malnutrition and the mentality of globalisation absorb the ambitions of Karl Marx's children, that's his problem. To illustrate it with scenes from the first level of Hades appears self-indulgent.

Reviewed on: 18 Oct 2001
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The struggles of a working class family in Marseille.
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Read more La Ville Est Tranquille reviews:

Amber Wilkinson ****

Director: Robert Guediguian

Writer: Jean-Louis Milesi, Robert Guediguian

Starring: Ariane Ascaride, Pierre Banderet, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Jacques Boudet, Pascale Roberts, Geraard Meylan

Year: 2000

Runtime: 133 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: France


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