The UK premier of the French police procedural Armed Hands (2012) took place recently at the Glasgow Film Theatre with a French Ambassador in attendance to give support for the 20th anniversary of the French Film Festival in Scotland he gave a wee speech that included acknowledging the great ties between French film and L’Ecosse. His second task was to introduce the film director Pierre Jolivet who informed the good size audience that this was his first time in Scotland and he intended taking full advantage of the countries golf courses! He told us that this was his first thriller for ten years and one he was particularly interested in making because of the importance of the genre in French cinema. Clarifying that in his opinion the thriller’s dramatic structure can deal with both the standard form of ‘good verses evil’ narrative but also allows for developing a humane story where even hard-bitten police detectives can have feelings! He then went on to explain a little about his 14th feature film.
Marseilles is where the action starts and its where we first meet illegal arms investigator Lucas Skali (Roschdy Zem) and his squad, who receive information about a gun smuggling operation based in Serbia. The story then moves to Paris where the team follows a trail that they hope will lead eventually to the cache of arms and a conviction for the smugglers. Running concurrent is the story of narcotics cop Maya (Leila Bekhti) who is participating in low-level sting operations with her seedy boss and his macho team of plain-clothes police officers who not opposed to lining their own pockets.
|Lucas Skali enforces his will.|
After the film Jolivet was happy to take part in a brief Q&A session answering questions and telling us that the film was based on its co-writer Simon Michael own experiences as a policeman and the directors own family relationships. Also, with his tongue firmly in cheek enlightened us that a director’s success with any film is down to luck and personnel fear that in turn keeps a film fresh! The early part of his cinematic body of work was mainly concerned with social matters and stated that his biggest influence was British reality movies, but did inform us which ones.
|The Narc squad see another chance to increase their bank balance!|
The two main actors, Roschdy Zem a French actor of Moroccan descent who was awarded Best Actor at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival for his role in Days of Glory (2006) and can be seen more recently in Outside the Law (2010) and Point Blank (2010) and Algerian born Leila Bekhti probably best known in the UK for her roles in The Prophet (2009) and Mesrine: Killer Instinct (2008), are superb with the camera particularly fond of Zem. Although this movie has at its core a strong narrative, it could do with a wee bit more sparkle and certainly more pace and intrigue, it does struggle at times comparing itself with Spiral but does not carry the French TV’s series panache.