29 January 2014 | OJT
A suspenseful underrated little gem from Paris
The French film "Un p'tit gars de Ménilmontant" (which translates to "a little boy from Ménilmontant"), in other markets named "Jo's Neighbourhood", was an extremely pleasant watch. I find the French title to be conceiving, and the international title to be more precise of what to expect. Because this is not your cozy little adventure, but more of a social crime flick, with a violent twist.
I must admit I didn't have the greatest of expectations, though I've come to think that French thrillers and crime flicks from the last years have had great quality. But I enjoyed immensely this little gem. Inspired by a true story, but I guess this story is too entangled to be very true.
Such an enjoyment I had, watching this, this I rated a 10 out of pure pleasure. I wouldn't consider this a classic, but it's simply great excitement and entertainment, and as such a recommended watch. I'm really stunned by the low rating here on IMDb from the first 25 raters. They must have missed what I saw.
Jo (Joël) gets out of prison after 15 years, after committing a heist. He digs up a part of the money never recovered, but already here the problems start. Jo's neighborhood has changed a lot in the latter years. His beloved woman has got a new man, and even got a son, now 14. His best friend and partner in crime runs a café, but are being threaten and bullied by a gang of local teenage hoodlums. Jo is back, and this changes his old neighborhood...
Reknown French actor Olivier Marchal is perfect as Jo, which still knows a lot of tricks from back then. The rest of the cast is also brilliant. What amazes me even more, is the use of streets in Paris, as a lot goes on outside. The outskirts of the metropol is really beautifully depicted, and is almost like an actor in itself. I must say this adds to the experience a lot. Obviously this environment could have been a lesser part of this film, but the film makers have made the situation into a main role, which is really pleasing.
While the story is maybe a bit too much entangled to some, I really enjoy the suspense which lingers through the movie. This is very qualified film making and story telling. Maybe some would like it to be longer, and perhaps have a more defined or happy ending, I think this is one of the best films of the year.
Don't let the low score here mislead you. This is a little gem, and a pleasant watch which also give you a beautiful glimpse of Paris streets as well as a great time.