The Connection (Drafthouse Films, R)

The-Connection 75The Connection is a perfectly functional, and even enjoyable, crime movie.





The-Connection 500

Though it’s embarrassing to admit, I’ve long found that I’m a lot more tolerant of otherwise-average genre movies in foreign languages than of those made in English. So, where I dislike most American romantic comedies I see, I like most French ones. Or, I like regular old Japanese horror movies, but I don’t often see American horror movies that impress me. You get the idea.

With that in mind, I enjoyed Cédric Jimenez’s The Connection, which is a more or less generic cops-and-drug-dealers movie from France. The Connection plays as something of a companion piece to The French Connection, which is really being played up in the U.S. marketing materials; its subject is a cop, Pierre Michel (Jean Dujardin, who you’ll recognize from The Artist and The Wolf of Wall Street), who is trying to catch Marseilles’ most powerful drug dealer, Tany Zampa (Gilles Lellouche), circa 1975. Those whose memory or frame of reference doesn’t reach as far back as The French Connection might be reminded of something like, say, American Hustle.

Dujardin is of course a strong, charismatic actor, so it isn’t too much of a chore to watch him try to catch the untouchable Zampa. Jimenez really plays up how Michel is A Really Good Guy, often showing his healthy relationship for his wife and children, or his successful leading of his peers (as a regular leader and as a role model). Though to some degree Michel acts as his own foil, given that he’s sometimes willing to break the rules if it means he’s able to get the bad guys caught more quickly.

The only serious problem facing The Connection is its runtime. It would be lazy to say that it’s too long, as its 135 minutes isn’t unusual for the genre, and nothing stands out as having needed to be cut. Regardless, by the film’s conclusion, which should be the best part, I was anxious for it to be over, which is never a good sign; I’m amazed by how little I really cared about what the resolution would be by the time it rolled around.

Overall, The Connection is a perfectly functional, and even enjoyable, crime movie. I doubt anyone who picks it out based on its plot synopsis will be overtly disappointed in it, but I have trouble believing that very many of these people will remember it a week later, either. | Pete Timmermann

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