The charismatic Paris crook Le Normand, as he is called respectfully by his
followers, is somewhere between a murder and a poet, between a gangster and a
philosopher. Thirty years ago, this Nietzschean figure moved from the industrial
port of Le Havre, but has never really left the town behind him. He is an expert
at psychological manipulation, but knows that in the end he will be the victim
of his own misbehaviour. To fight a war against rival gangs, he hires a man,
Nico, who is however soon forced by one of the gangs to betray his boss. Le
Normand takes his revenge by killing Sergio, a friend of Nico, and also brutally
murdering his brother. Nico in turn wants revenge. He reports bravely to the
headquarters of the philosopher-murderer in Le Havre for a duel. But then events
take an unexpected turn.
Filmfest Hamburg 1999 (tesafilm Reihe)
Max-Ophüls Filmfestival Saarbrücken 2000
International Filmfestival of Rotterdam 2000
International Filmfestival of Sochie 2000
International Filmfestival of Bratislava 2000
Filmfestival Braunschweig 2000
Verzaubert Filmfestival 2000
The New Filmfestival of New York 2001
Underdogs between Scorsese and Carné
A climax of this year’s section of the Hamburg Film Festival dedicated to young international directors is a German-French co-production by Tony Baillargeat (29). who shows his first feature-film „Les Déclassés“.
Tony Baillargeat who started to write scripts for theatre and films at the age of 12 is multi-talented: He is not only the director of his film, the script is from him, too. And he plays one of the main characters of the film: Nico, a young man from the shady side of life, works for a Parisian drug dealer, a killer who is – and that is what makes the film so intriguing – torn between violence, philosophy and poetry. This ambiguity makes him a restless hybrid of mercilessness and intellect.
Nico, basically an innocent big boy from the province, in the end triumphs over his complex boss.
“My film is to show the ambiguity that we all carry within ourselves”, says Tony Baillargeat, “If you ask me to put a label on it, I would call the film a psycho-thriller anywhere between Scorsese’s “Taxidriver” and Carné’s “Quai des Brumes”. This speaks for his good taste. Before reaching his idols, Tony Baillargeat still has some way to go. Asked about the intense violence in his film, he reflects: ”I do not glorify violence but try to explain what leads to it.” That he succeeded to do.
Like a stab in the heart
Bewitched: Melancholy and fairy tale at the gay-lesbian film festival
This year, the complex and intensive films didn’t come from America, but from Asia and Europe, specially from France, where currently an exciting cinema of sordid poetry blossoms.
No doubt, the American Queer Cinema is at present too conceited and too harmless. What a power emanates from the impetuous and overflowing French feature film “Les Déclassés” (“A Class Apart”) the shocker of this year’s festival. The young Tony Baillargeat wrote and directed this hard, elegiac gangster film - and plays one of the main parts in it. Jean Genet, Abel Ferrara, David Fincher and Marcel Carné have patterned for Baillargeats unrestrained, ambitious debut, which portrays in a poetic hyper realism the losers and saints, the fools and dark prince in the dirty underworld between Paris and Le Havre. A ‘dance macabre’ which polarises the spectators, but also tug their heartstrings. “My film points out the contradictions which are in everyone of us”, says Baillargeat. Finally a film that celebrates the ambivalence and the ambiguity and moves and disconcerts the spectators. Baillargeats gangster boss remains unforgettable, a killer and moral philosopher who murders quoting Hermann Hesse.
Who drops, in a psychological thriller, the sentence: “Crime must remain a national pride”, intends to do something unusual with this genre. Indeed, Tony Baillargeat, director, author and actor of one of the main parts of his film, is paying hommage to the “film noir”, the poetic realism of Marcel Carné’s “Port of Shadows” and the violence of Scorsese’s films. Starting as a laconic gangster film about gang warfare, betrayal and violence, the film develops into an elegiac thriller about lonely and ice-cold killers between depression and cattiness.