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The Connection (La French) - Alliance Francaise French Film Festival Review

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Jean Dujardin and Gilles Lellouche go head to head in the acclaimed The Connection (La French) from French film director Cédric Jimenez.

This action-thriller originally premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival and was inspired by the dismantling of the of the international heroin smuggling ring dubbed the 'French Connection' or 'La French' in the 1970s.

Set over 6 years in Marseille, from 1975 to 1981, The Connection sees Jean Dujardin as the real-life police magistrate Pierre Michel and Gilles Lellouche as Gaëtan "Tany" Zampa, a drug gang ringleader.

The French Connection itself dates back to the 1930s and when the audience is introduced to the city of Marseille in The Connection, it is overrun with gang warfare, drug trafficking and police corruption.

In 1975, Pierre Michel is a juvenile-court magistrate, who sympathies with the youths who have succumb to drug addition. He is promoted to crime investigations and sets out to form a team to take down local kingpin Zampa.

Unbeknownst to Michel is how high the French Connection goes.

To build the case against Zampa, it is a slow procedural process; Michel needs to 'cut the tentacles to get to the octopus'. He arrests Zampa's cohorts one by one over any criminal activity he can pin them too.

Zampa initially is not shaken by 'the new Judge in town', until right hand man, Le Fou's (Benoît Magimel) loyalty starts to waver.

Over the years, Michel's obsessive need to bring down Zampa takes its toll - his family life starts to crumble, as Zampa's seemingly untouchable stature in the city grows.

Jimenez intercuts the domestic lives of Michel and Zampa throughout the film; we see the friendships, the successes, the failures, and the fears of the hunter and hunted as the criminal activities spread to New York City.

The events of French Connection also inspired William Friedkin's The French Connection and John Frankenheimer's French Connection II - allowing The Connection to have a ready-made international audience.

The action and drama is well-placed against the gritty backdrops of 1970s Marseille and New York City. Archival footage is seamlessly edited in also - adding to the authenticity of the film. The eclectic soundtrack - featuring tracks by Serge Gainsbourg, Mike Brant, Sheila, Blondie and The Velvet Underground - is used carefully and appropriately in key montage sequences.

Backed by a great script (with some very quotable one-liners), excellent performances from an ensemble cast and Jimenez's impeccable direction - The Connection is a slick policier which will appeal to fans of the crime genre.

The Connection is one of the highlights of this year's Alliance Francaise French Film Festival - click here for session details.

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