Violaine Barabroux, Nicolas Blanc, Manuel Chiche, Sarah Egry
Sébastien Birchler, Jimmy Laporal-Trésor, Virak Thun
Jonathan Feltre, Victor Meutelet, Missoum Slimani, Angelina Woreth
The year is 1984, in the suburbs of Paris. Ahmed, known as Rico, and Rudy are going through adolescence typical for young people from immigrant families. Between the desire to meet girls and clashes with neo-Nazi groups, they party with their circle of friends, with whom they have formed a gang called Rascals. Flying their colours conspicuously on their sleeves, they are content to go about their business until they come across a repentant former fascist who had beaten up Rico and Rudy, then aged 11. Rico freaks out and sends their erstwhile tormentor to the hospital, right in front of his sister Frédérique. From there, everything spirals out of control. As Frédérique becomes radicalized and is introduced to a seriously organised far-right group by one of her teachers, word of mouth gets around and paints a target on the Rascals' backs.
Set during the rise of the skinhead movement that swept through Paris in the 1980s, LES RASCALS is an absolutely essential film to watch in this era of polarization and the rise of the identitarian right in the West. It's one of the best feature films of the year, matched only by its relevance. A sort of hybrid between Mathieu Kassovitz’s LA HAINE and Martin Scorsese’s GOODFELLAS. Of course, the misogynist language of the time, coming from young men pumped full of hormones, is shocking, and the racist terminology raises eyebrows, but the immersion is total, especially as we follow the protagonists as they fall on both sides of the coin. The soundtrack, with its mix of rockabilly, punk, and Caribbean rhythms, also transports us to this unique era and context. Director and co-writer Jimmy Laporal-Trésor has crafted a masterful debut, never overemphasizing violence but focusing brilliantly on its ramifications. The protagonists, superbly acted, are in fact the victims of circumstances that reach far beyond them. LES RASCALS could not be more topical, reminding us that vigilance against all the forms of intolerance we witness daily is essential. – Translation: Rupert Bottenberg