Je ne suis pas un Salaud (I’m not a Bastard)

Eddie’s (Nicolas Duvauchelle) ambition is held in a vice. With Karine (Mélanie Thierry)

Eddie’s (Nicolas Duvauchelle) ambition is held in a vice. With Karine (Mélanie Thierry)

White working-class malaise holds Eddie’s ambition (Nicolas Duvauchelle) in a vice in this tense contemporary thriller set on a Paris council estate. Gripped by swelling low self-esteem, Eddie has tried various jobs, hates them all and finds it difficult to connect with life around him.

One night, after some heavy drinking he is attacked by a gang from his estate. With alcohol-infused confidence he retaliates and is badly beaten up. Shortly afterwards, Eddie wrongfully picks out Ahmed (Driss Ramdi) as a main perpetrator (someone he has seen on the estate a few days earlier) in an identity parade.

The law hounds Ahmed and things get messy. In an attempt to cleanse himself, Eddie seeks to improve his relationship with Karine (Mélanie Thierry) and their young son. He forces himself to accept a job he hates which makes him spiral down further into misery.

Director Emmanueal Finkiel’s main triumph is the elicitation of two exquisite performances from Duvauchelle and Thierry. Thierry plays Karine as patient and kind, representing an iconic, forgiving love. Her face is tender, and she clings to her saintliness to help her cope with Eddie’s frustration and random violent explosions.

Meanwhile, Duvauchelle becomes increasingly pinched, angrier and more desperate as he is unable to express his frustration. Cinematographer Alexis Kavyrchine exposes the film as a water-colour left out in the rain: the colours and images cry and bleed with Eddie’s sadness and anger, taking him to a place where there is only one solution that will smash his loneliness.

Director: Emmanuel Finkiel (2014)

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