Release Date: May 29, 2015
Running Time: 135 minutes
Meet Pierre Michel, Marseille’s answer to Popeye Doyle. In Cédric Jimenez’s gripping thriller The Connection, Jean Dujardin dispenses justice with an iron fist as the real-life police magistrate who attempts to dismantle the French Connection beginning in the late 1975 (until his murder in 1981). In the opening scenes of The Connection, Jimenez fondly recalls William Freidkin’s The French Connection, most notably through the stripping down of a car that’s used to smuggle drugs out of Marseille and into New York. From there, The Connection blazes its own path to offer the French perspective on the infamous heroin smuggling operation while striving for and obtaining the grittiness and tension of The French Connection. Michel’s quarry is Tany Zampa, a drug dealer who is played with remarkable gentlemanly finesse by Gilles Lellouche. This sets up The Connection as an exhilarating cat-and-mouse game between two formidable opponents. They are smart and resourceful men who are committed to staying the course no matter the consequences. Dujardin taps into Michel’s addictive personality to reveal a crusader blessed with a sense of purpose and clarity of vision that’s only matched by his willingness to set aside everything that’s important to him in his bid to get his man. Michel’s so blinded by his one-man war on drugs that he fails to see the harm he’s doing to his family. Conversely, Zampa’s every move is dictated by his desire to maintain his family’s safety and secure their future. Make no mistake, Zampa is a dangerous man but Lellouche and Jimenez refuse to dismiss him as simply a ruthless criminal clinging to his drug empire. Lellouche imbues Zampa with a cautiousness that complements his forward thinking and pragmatic approach to business. This not only makes Zampa one of the most complex and conservative villains in recent memory but a drug dealer who is easier to understand and identify with than the man who wants to put him behind bars. Had the Zampa of The Connection gone into politics, he would have won the hearts and minds of a nation with the minimum of effort. This ensures Zampa’s gradual loss of power and influence is as fascinating as Michel’s fall from grace as a result of making too many enemies and overstepping his bounds. The two come face to face several times in The Connection, and Jimenez rightly treats their brief encounters with the significance they deserve and with the appropriate amount of restraint. The war that wages between these two adversaries is as addictive as the drugs that connect them.
Aired: May 28, 2015
Web site: http://drafthousefilms.com/film/the-connection