La Raison du plus faible (The Right of the Weakest)
The premise of this film intrigued me as it looked at a group of men getting involved in a heist from a slightly unusual angle, and so I decided to catch this at the Edinburgh International Film Festival this year.
The film does start off slightly confusing. The opening scenes introduce us separately to the different characters, swapping back and forth between them, and it takes some time before their separate threads come together. When they do though it's a great moment, and we meet them and start to get to know them at their local daytime card game.
It then continues on at a slow pace, exploring their lives and why they can no longer work. Some of them have been abandoned by the iron mill to which their friends gave their lives and Jean-Pierre his legs. Patrick has three master degrees and can still find no work, while Marc comes in the pub one day and is drawn to the group, he is the ex-convict who sparks Robert's imagination.
It takes time to show each of these people and the hopelessness of their situations. We are told about the pressures of not being able to find work and the inadequate and humiliating feelings that it gives these men. Through these introductions we find our affinity with them, surprisingly so with Patrick who despite being a convicted bank robber is the most humiliated and trapped man in the group.
The acting is great, and helps carry off these characters believability, with the character development being very insightful and real, particularly where Patrick fights with his wife. At the same time these tales and situations are heart wrenching, and you really do feel for them all.
Along the way I was surprised to find such a high level of humour. There are some very amusing moments between the characters, although in the latter part of the film as the heist begins to start the humour slowly dries up to be replaced with some very tense moments.
During the heist the story splits into threads, and they wind together very well. In keeping with the film the whole heist is played very real and in keeping with each of the characters. The closing scenes of the film is good but there is a feeling that it was done to tie up the film rather than develop the characters any further, more to complete their journey.
Personally I preferred the first part of the film where the characters are being developed. I'm not usually one that will find much enjoyment in such a simple tale, but here I did. Getting to know these characters delivered a lot more than saying goodbye to them.
It has a quite tragic feeling to it, and you can see this growing from way back in the film, and the small glimmer of hope that they find seems merely to alleviate that for a short while. Overall though I would say it's a well written and acted film with some interesting characters to get to know.