Paris Lockdown

Paris Lockdown


Reviewed by: Richard Mellor

Forget love and the Louvre - Paris in Frédéric Schoendoerffer's film is more murder and misogyny, with the French capital's underbelly revealed as scarcely less scabrous than that of London. La joie de vivre is singularly lacking: the only joie here stems from making as many Euros as possible. The movie distantly echoes the lawlessness (and silly character names) of Snatch, but Schoendoerffer opts for raw realism over glossy stylistics or black humour.

The focus in on the city's organised crime scene, and most of that crime is organised by one man: Claude Corti (Philippe Caubère), a vicious bulldog whose diminutive height is countered by a broiling personality. When struggling to teach misfiring henchmen a lesson in testicular fortitude, Claude repeatedly screams: "I never get fucked." Spittle splays from his growling gob, while coked-up eyes glare. We get it - the beserk berk's loopy. Enough already!

Copy picture

Or not, as it turns out. Like all self-respecting, mildly bonkers hoodlums, Claude is particular about punishment. Underperforming disciples accommodate a poker where even suns haven't yet shone, while captured enemies fare even worse - one pleading traitor has his eyes removed and knee erased via pneumatic drill. It's real video nasty stuff, ready to probe the sturdiest of constitutions and induce a succession of sacré bleus.

Fortunately, this baddie's days look numbered - for all his DIY ability, Claude's regime is built on wobbly foundations. Minions plot mutiny as rivals recruit supporters; an entente cordiale never looks likely. This slow shift in the Paris felony landscape is documented with a spree of public shoot-outs and police raids. It's enjoyable enough in a simplistic way.

For a while one struggles to remember, or even care, who's who, with the film little more than a blur of bad boys, naked girls, fast cars and cocaine. But there is some strong characterisation lurking. While his potential usurpers have a paucity of personality, Claude at one point he tells oddly loyal spouse, Béatrice (a tough Beatrice Dalle, the film's only female voice), to use stem cell therapy to ensure he doesn't father any more "slits" – as he charmingly coins his existing daughters.

Much subtler is Franck (Benoît Magimel), the local hitman and key character. In company with grumpy sidekick Jean-Guy (Olivier Marchal), he dresses well, lives well, treats women well and definitely kills well. He even combs well, boasting the kind of slick-back hairdo that is a distant, but far more chic cousin to the Croydon Facelift, sans pony tail. Franck's louche cool and ability to sidestep Claude's temper tantrums easily renders him the film's most appealing rogue.

Like Franck, the movie is at its best away from crime. Picking up where Heat left off, Schoendoerffer presents involving subplots from his characters' lives: Claude and Béatrice ponder a trip to Egypt; one of a pair of Moroccan cousins converts to Islam; Franck finds Jean-Guy's new wife cheating. But these all too infrequent domestic strands feature too rarely - and end up feeling sadly hyperfluous.

Guns and bravado rather tackily win the day, as so often, and the finale is accompanied with a surge of bodies rivalling Titanic.

Reviewed on: 24 Jun 2008
Share this with others on...
Paris Lockdown packshot
Murder and misogyny in the underbelly of the French capital.
Amazon link

Director: Frédéric Schoendoerffer

Writer: Yann Brion, Frédéric Schoendoerffer

Starring: Benoît Magimel, Philippe Caubère, Béatrice Dalle, Olivier Marchal, Mehdi Nebbou, Tomer Sisley, Ludovic Schoendoerffer, Anne Marivin, Alain Figlarz, Cyril Lecomte, André Peron

Year: 2007

Runtime: 107 minutes

Country: France


Search database:

If you like this, try: