ttff/17 rbc future critics
Le Gang des Antillais (Gang of the Antilles), based on a true story, is an ambitious film that explores the rise and fall of its flawed but relatable protagonist Jimmy. Jimmy is a Martiniquan who was persuaded to go to mainland France for its promise and opportunities. Instead of meeting a land of hope and honey, he has to precariously navigate the waters of a racially charged 1970s France. Adding to Jimmy’s challenges are the relationships with the women around him and his involvement in a world of crime.
This film hinges on themes such as colonialism and the sense of exile, alienation, and racism that colonials feel in the imperial ‘mother’ land. Le Gang des Antillais stands tall among top notch crime movies as it is loaded with action, riveting conflict, scenes of violence, bullets flying, double crosses, twists and turns and a protagonist that gets in way over his head. They are hints of ‘Scarface’ (an immigrant trying to make a life for himself), ‘American Gangster’ and also Tarantino styled ‘blaxploitation’. The costumes and set design were wonderfully executed as I felt transported directly to 1970s Europe. Director Jean Claude Barney certainly did an amazing job with his limited resources.
The story of Jimmy, though familiar, is given considerable depth. We see him as he tries to escape his criminal association with the gang Bumidon; we hope for him as he tries to live a normal life with the woman he loves, Linda, as well as provide for his young daughter, Odile. But when times are hard and the promise of fast cash is ever present, Jimmy seems doomed to give in to the temptation of straying from the straight and narrow.
As the film progresses we see that the true conflict Jimmy faces lies deeper, as he is a man at war with his own violent nature. It’s a struggle that is exacerbated by the hard hearted French society at the time; racism was more mainstream than it is now, and Jimmy and his Caribbean contemporaries were fed a daily diet of hate.
With so many ‘gangster movies’ inhabiting the growing collection of films today, Le Gang Des Antillais is a welcome addition to the often overlooked Caribbean territory. If you’re a fan of these types of films Le Gang is a perfect selection for you. Personally I was riveted throughout and I am sure you will feel similarly thrilled by what is an excellently executed crime thriller.