Review: La Petite Bande – Cineuropa
– Expert in smart comedies, Pierre Salvadori delivers a refreshing, poignant and inventive film about a group of pre-teens transformed into ecological guerrillas
(lr) Mathys Clodion-Gines, Aymé Medeville, Redwan Sellam, Colombe Schmidt and Paul Belhoste in The little band
“Would you be ready to go all the way to save nature?”, “We are going to burn down the factory”. Did you think you would relax in a film about environmental activism, living up to Night movements? Well, think again, because although environmental protection is clearly more than a background theme in The little band [+see also:
film profile] – that Gaumont will be released in French theaters on July 20 – master of subtle comedy Rock Salvadorans (the problem with you [+see also:
interview: Pierre Salvadori
film profile], The trainees, Invaluable [+see also:
film profile], to name just a few of his films) has always emphasized the human and attempts at unity in his work. His latest opus is part of this cinematic ideal, peppered with always amusing complications (getting along with others is not always easy and the motivations of some are not necessarily the same as those of others), but this time- here the filmmaker adds an additional challenge (which he takes up brilliantly): to focus on pre-teens of about 12 years old as main characters.
In the playground of a small town nestled in the green maquis of Corsica and bathed in the summer sun, Fouad (Mathys Clodion-Gines), Anthony (Ayme Medeville), Cat (Dove Schmidt) and Sami (Redwan Sellam) discuss a talk on pollution they heard in class. In addition, swimming has been prohibited in the local river for several years because of the waste from the factory. Motivated by a boastful misunderstanding (hiding 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 very surprising (and comical) reserves of imagination and ingenuity. Unfortunately, their mission goes wrong and the foursome find themselves caught in a spiral of increasingly risky illegal acts involving the boss of the factory (Laurent Capelluto) who makes a surprise appearance, a fifth young thief named Aimé (Paul Belhoste) who joins the “Green Ninjas”, and a growing dissent which threatens the solidarity of the group even as the police flounder…
Perfectly cast and painting a very accurate picture of five very different young personalities (ranging from the son of a constable to the son of a convict, from the son of an employee to the daughter of a manager, from the scary cat to the brave, and the harassed one who dreams of becoming a superhero, etc.), The little band is a delicious film that will appeal to all audiences. A classic adventure tale for children (cabins, binoculars, kayaks, bicycles, friendship, delicate or secret romances…), an amusing comedy full of brilliant ideas (based on a sophisticated and effective screenplay written by the director and Benoit Graffin), a transposition of the magical universe (featuring an evil and polluting monster whose fortress is stormed by knights) and a universal film that channels the many positive values emanating from a desire to be together, without forgetting a double ecological dimension (fighting against industrial damage and being immersed in the wilderness), Pierre Salvadori’s new film is wonderfully refreshing, as if it exudes a simple desire to be happy.
The little band is produced by Les Films Pelléas in co-production with France 2 Cinéma. Sales are entrusted to Wild Bunch International.
(Translated from French)