THE CONNECTION (LA FRENCH) is based on real life events in Marseille in 1975. An honest judge Pierre Michele (Jean Dujardin) takes a stand against drug cartel called The French Connection and its mastermind Gaetan Zampa (Gilles Lelluoche). Michele is repulsed by any addiction. A gambling addict himself he sees what drugs can do to people of his city, but is his desire to pin down Zampa is also an addiction of the sort?
Michele and Zampa both shown as charismatic men in control of their lives. Both married with kids, both in love with their wives. There's nothing infernal in Lellouche's portrayal of Zampa. Thinker, planner and tough negotiator he looks more like modern day businessman than a gangster. Dujardin's Michele is a little too perfect, however, with barely any downsides to his personality.
THE CONNECTIONS is a solid gangster film the likes of CASINO. It is also an interesting (and expensive) period production. Clothes, cars, furniture, venue designs look as authentic and it is possible to achieve. The film has a grainy look and its world is seen through a filter of faded colours of the past. Cinematography uses shaky camera too often for my liking, but an inventive cut of some major scenes creates an unbearable tension, and you can feel that something terrible is coming long before it actually hits the screen.
THE CONNECTIONS has a lengthy run of 135 minutes, but it does not feel it, which for me is a sign of a great film. There's no surprise in the way movie ends, but it leaves an uncomfortable aftertaste. The justice showed as something subjective, as simple as the other side of the coin of a criminal act.
THE CONNECTION is a rare thriller that is inhabited by real people and some memorable characters. With perfectly achieved atmosphere of time and place it is a nearly perfect gangster movie that could be regarded as a sequel to the famous FRENCH CONNECTION by William Friedkin.