F IS FOR FRANCE
I love The Wire. I think it’s one of the most important works of fiction of the first half of 21st century and one of the most exhaustive studies of the problems of the Western society at this point in time. So I’m always excited when I can discover something that does some of the similar work and branches the observations further, to other parts of the systems, or the world. My latest find is L.627, a 1992 film by Bertrand Tavernier, that gives the viewer a glimpse into the seedy world of a Parisian drug squad.
L.627, named so after the article in the French law about possession, trade and consumption of narcotics, follows Lulu, a volatile police officer, who has trouble following authority and withstanding injustice. While Lulu struggles to balance his family life, his friendship with informants and his work, we see how the world of drug trade and law enforcement is fraught with racism and xenophobia. The disenfranchised are, meanwhile, pushed to the limit and forced to participate in sex work, drug trade or consumption and violence.
This is an interesting issue. I was struggling with the fact that all drug dealers in the film were black or Arabic, a common stereotype that had been exploited by Western genre films. Apparently L’Obs, the leftist French newspaper, marked the film as racist back when it came out. But after careful consideration I do think that the issue is addressed with enough empathy and portrays the casual racism of law enforcement and society in a frank way, from the outside looking in, making comments on it rather than endorsing. Again, quite like The Wire.
Also Known As: Auf offener Straße; Veriset kujat
Director: Bertrand Tavernier