a tragic thriller boosted with testosterone

David Belle, Lannick Gautry, Gérard Lanvin and Kaaris in “Bronx”, by Olivier Marchal..


Without a three-day beard – minimum – it is almost impossible for an actor to join a cast by Olivier Marchal. Hairiness immediately reads as a metaphor for virility, and therefore for courage. His seventh film as a director is no exception to the rule.

Another story of cops moving on the ridge between good and evil, legal and illegal, utter despair and silent grief. They talk like carters and punctuate their sentences with ” whore “, “motherfucker” Where “son of a bitch”. We confuse them a little, with their testosterone levels raised to the maximum, their messy hair, their jeans-jacket-sneakers look, their problematic quarantine that they consume by chaining glasses of whiskey, cigarettes and the conquests of a evening.

The “poulaga house” is Olivier Marchal’s comfort zone, his sandpit. The former police officer, who had his first directing success with 36 Quai des Goldsmiths (2004), assumes the clichés of the genre, without playing with them. He retained a tenderness for his former colleagues. He defends them, understands them, absolves them, even when they slip.

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Take Richard Vronski (Lannick Gautry), the hero of Bronx. A member of the anti-gang brigade (BRI), he opposes Costa (Moussa Maaskri), head of the banditry repression brigade (BRB), while the war between Corsican gangs is raging in Marseille. To make matters worse, a new police chief (Jean Reno, hieratic like Belphegor) has just been appointed to put order in this Marseille petaudière.

Black novel

This black novel on the Big Blue is so dark that the spectator can sometimes wonder if Marchal would not have had a little heavy hand. Even if we feel that his concern is less that of making his story perfectly believable than of refining the psychology of his heroes and their Racinian trajectory, a few explanations would not have been superfluous.

Thus Willy Kapellian (Stanislas Merhar), the most fragile of the members of Vronski’s team, who, from biture to biture, from fall to shipwreck, ends up pulling the curtain on a life that is too heavy. The director could have avoided taking out his Stabilo to underline the fragility of his character.

Nobody – cops or hoodlums (among whom we find, for a few minutes, Claudia Cardinale in mamma Corsican), junior officers or big shots – escapes the cogs of fate that crush human beings, even if they have the best intentions. The corpses are piling up. Eventually we stop counting them. Such is life, black as night. The tall ship on which Vronski wanted to set sail will hardly go further than the creeks of Cassis.

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