After the success of “Les Misérables”, Ladj Ly returns with “Bâtiment 5”

PARIS: Four years after “Les Misérables”, a surprise film that won many awards, director Ladj Ly changes the atmosphere but does not change the setting: in “Bâtiment 5”, he tells of the difficulties of urban renovation and the vagaries of local politics in the suburbs.

More classic in its performance, less driven by urgency than “Les Misérables,” “Bâtiment 5,” which opens in theaters Wednesday, gravitates toward the specter of degraded condominiums, housing units in working-class neighborhoods where modest families are trapped. trapped in a vicious cycle between charge explosion and building degradation.

Until it was offered, decades after its purchase, takeover by the State and re-settlement in public housing.

“Beautiful organized fraud” denounced Ladj Ly, who knew the problem was growing in Clichy/Montfermeil (Seine-Saint-Denis) which is one of the largest vertical slums.

“Our parents all bought, we were all owners! We were told: to integrate, you have to be an owner. They finished paying off their credit with a 15% interest rate, we made them pay triple their apartment which was a total scam; for 20 years after it was taken over and became a tenant,” he testified.

The film features a confrontation between two newcomers to local politics, a pediatrician who agrees to become mayor after the incumbent’s death and is about to sink into authoritarianism, and a young woman, Haby (Anta Diaw), rebelling over the injustice done to her expropriated family. . and who will launch the campaign.

After collaborating on the scripts of two films of his close friend, (“Athena” by Romain Gavras for Netflix and “The young imam” by Kim Chapiron), Ladj Ly found a good part of the “Misérables” team and well-rounded resources. More importantly, it takes success.

“We found a family with whom we experienced our best moments,” said actor Alexis Manenti. “We arrived after Les Misérables, we knew we were expected.”

Like “Les Misérables”, which attracted 2.1 million viewers and collected 4 Césars among best films, this film has almost documentary value, Ladj Ly knows the places of Seine-Saint-Denis like few filmmakers and continues to work with the people of the environment where he grew up.

Foreboding scene

“In the film, we speak about ten languages, Bambara, Fulani, Soninké, Syriac, English, French! The idea is this richness. That’s what France is today, a mix of traditions, we have to pay tribute to these cultures” without falling into cliché , the bottom line of the 45-year-old director, who is the center of the Kourtrajmé collective, which has helped for years to train cinema professionals in the Paris suburbs and which is close to Vincent Cassel and Mathieu.

After the riots that rocked France following the death of Nahel, who was killed by police last June, this film was eagerly awaited. This carries a message about the involvement of the younger generation from the surrounding area in politics.

And is shocked by a scene that seems to be an omen, in which the mayor’s bourgeois residence is stormed by a desperate citizen.

“It’s the only fictionalized scene in the film,” and it was filmed before the attack on the house of Vincent Jeanbrun, the mayor of L’Haÿ-les-Roses (Val-de-Marne), explains Ladj Ly.

“People are shocked, but you can feel when things are going to escalate. When things get worse, at some point, anger will take over,” he said.

LR-elect’s home was attacked with a car-ramming attack in early July, becoming the center of unrest caused by Nahel’s death.

Garfield Woolery

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