For those of you who ever saw The French Connection and wondered, “hey whatever happened to the French side of that connection?” then TIFF has a movie for you. The Connection (amusingly, the original title is La French) turns back the clock to a time when the country was one of the largest heroin exporters in the world, the 1970s.
The drug industry had essentially taken over an entire city, until one of France’s last honest cops (Jean Dujardin) was brought in to take it down. It’s a police procedural thriller with a powdered McGuffin, pressure cooker suspense sequences, colorful villains, a pounding 70s soundtrack, sleazy fun, and a factual basis to make it all feel more important than the usual Eurotrash crime thriller.
Sophomore director Cedric Jimenez delivers the brand of rapid fire Scorsese-lite entertainment that has dominated this genre since Goodfellas. It’s certainly an entertaining French crime picture along the lines of the Mesrine movies and also just as limited in ambition. Jimenez wants nothing more than to stage some action, cut together some musical montages, and play an equally obsessed cop (Dujardin) and drug lord (Gilles Lellouche) off eachother for classic cop movie drama. It’s essentially a collection of genre staples in a hands ome package with two strong lead performances on opposite ends of the law and no grand ambition as film beyond fitting in with what came before. On that level alone, it certainly works.
Lively, entertaining, colorful, twisty, violent, darkly funny, and filled with twists, The Connection does exactly what it’s supposed to do and then rolls credits before you could ask for more. (Phil Brown)
Friday, September 12th, 6:30pm, Roy Thompson Hall
Saturday, September 13th, 9:00am, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema