Army of Crime
Fascinating True Story - Mick Jordan
In Nazi occupied Paris in 1941 a group of disparate outsiders form an underground resistance group. These are the ultimate outsiders – Communists; Armenian immigrants who are fleeing the genocide perpetrated on them in Turkey and of course – Jews. Having fought back as individuals and achieved little, they now come together to create a more organized and efficient fighting unit. They attack and kill a number of top German generals, blow up bus-loads of troops and generally become a major embarrassment to the French authorities who are busily trying to present themselves as more Nazi than the Nazis. There have been some comments made that 'Army of Crime' is slow-moving even dull and while it takes its time and is perhaps a little too long it is never uninteresting and frequently gripping. The violent set-pieces are all the more effective precisely because they do suddenly come out of the ordinary and director Robert Guediguian makes every explosion, every gun-shot particularly loud to add to the shock effect. What is fascinating is the almost peripheral role the occupying Germans play in all this. They merely outline the results they want – it is the French police who eagerly invent new and brutal ways to achieve them. The film is also at pains to emphasise the extreme isolation of the group. They are not part of the larger national French resistance fighting to free their country – they are a small band of society's rejects fighting to stay alive. There is no-one to help them and because of the very nature of their backgrounds they are the number one target of the police – because they are not their people. In fact the most affecting scene that highlights this 'apartness' is the opening one. The group have been arrested and are being taken away to be shot, all handcuffed to their seats on a standard city coach. As they are slowly driven away to their deaths they look out the windows at the passing streets of Paris, enviously watching ordinary people going about their ordinary lives. People laughing and talking; lovers embracing and families playing – all in the glorious afternoon sunshine. It's a world they are being forever taken away from – a world they were never allowed be a part of.
Review published on the 14 October 2009 14:06
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