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FILMS / REVIEWS France

Review: The Little Gang

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- An expert in intelligent comedies, Pierre Salvadori delivers a refreshing, poignant and inventive film about a group of preteens transformed into ecological guerrillas

Review: The Little Gang
(l-r) Mathys Clodion-Gines, Aymé Medeville, Redwan Sellam, Colombe Schmidt and Paul Belhoste in The Little Gang

"Would you be prepared to go as far as it takes to save nature?", "We’re going to torch the factory". Did you think you were relaxing into a film about ecological activism, on a par with Night Moves? Well, think again, for whilst protecting the environment is clearly more than a background theme in The Little Gang [+see also:
trailer
interview: Pierre Salvadori
film profile
]
- which Gaumont are releasing in French cinemas on 20 July - master of subtle comedy Pierre Salvadori (The Trouble With You [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Pierre Salvadori
film profile
]
, Les Apprentis, Priceless [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, to name just a few of his films) has always homed in on all things human and attempts at togetherness in his work. His latest opus falls in line with this cinematographic ideal, peppered with ever-amusing complications (getting along with others isn’t always easy and one person’s motives aren’t necessarily the same as another’s), but this time around the filmmaker has added an additional challenge (which he meets with flying colours): focusing on roughly 12-year-old preteens as his main characters.

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In the playground of a small town nestled in the verdant scrub of Corsica and bathed in the summer sun, Fouad (Mathys Clodion-Gines), Antoine (Aymé Medeville), Cat (Colombe Schmidt) and Sami (Redwan Sellam) are discussing a presentation on pollution which they listened to in class. Incidentally, bathing has been prohibited in the local river for a number of years on account of factory waste. Motivated by a boastful misunderstanding (concealing a secret), hidden feelings and, inevitably, the group effect, our four heroes decide to set fire to the building. Naturally, the task is easier said than done but, collectively, the little gang develops some highly surprising (and comical) reserves of imagination and ingenuity. Unfortunately, their mission goes awry, and the quartet find themselves caught in a spiral of increasingly high-risk illegal acts involving factory boss (Laurent Capelluto) who makes a surprise appearance, a fifth young thief called Aimé (Paul Belhoste) who joins the "Green Ninjas", and growing dissent which threatens the group’s solidarity just as the police wade in…

Perfectly cast and painting a highly accurate picture of five very different young personalities (ranging from the son of a gendarme to the son of a convict, the son of an employee to a manager’s daughter, the scaredy-cat to the plucky one, and the bullied one who dreams of becoming a superhero, etc.), The Little Gang is a delightful film which will cast its spell over all kinds of audiences. A classic children’s adventure story (featuring cabins, binoculars, kayaks, bikes, friendship, tricky or secret romances, etc.), a fun comedy bursting with brilliant ideas (based on a sophisticated and effective screenplay written by the director and Benoît Graffin), a transposition of the fairy-tale world (featuring an evil, polluting monster whose fortress is stormed by knights) and a universal film which channels the many positive values emanating from a desire to be together, not to mention a dual ecological dimension (fighting back against industrial damage and being immersed in the wilds of nature), Pierre Salvadori’s new film is wonderfully refreshing, as if exuding a simple desire to be happy.

The Little Gang is produced by Les Films Pelléas in co-production with France 2 Cinéma. Sales are entrusted to Wild Bunch International.

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(Translated from French)

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