We’ve seen this genre previously. A band of perceived “misfits” somehow transforms into a power to be reckoned with whether it be “Bad News Bears” or even “The Dirty Dozen”.
In this case it is a group of poor youth from the “Picasso Neighbourhood” in Northern France’s Boulogne Sur Mer who are recruited to participate in a film which I believe has the name “Pissing in the North Wind”. These are children who in addition to suffering from poverty come from broken homes, could be considered promiscuous, suffer from autism, and are generally disadvantaged. They are seen by some in the hood as the worst ones that could have been selected for the film. The producers were looking for children who have “difficult lives”. They certainly have found the right group of children ranging in age from 5 -15. The hood fears further stereotyping of Picasso whereas the director is looking for reality. He doesn’t have to look far as it is right under his nose!
“The Worst Ones” is not so much about making a film but about the actual lives of those children with “difficult lives”. And they pull through and deliver fine performances establishing clearly they may have difficult lives but they have pride and ability. More important to us viewers will be the conflict and daily lives these children have and not the film that attempts to portray their lives. The making of the film is nothing but a pretext to examine the state of childhood in France and germane to all countries poverty is a heavy weight around a child’s neck. There is lack of social support in Picasso. There is social media bullying. There is promiscuity and drugs which on closer thought may be not that different for the majority of French children. Whether its Scampia in Naples, Harlem in New York or Jane and Finch in Toronto in “Picasso” there are similarities we shouldn’t forget.
Mallory Wanecque as Lily has a captivating vivacity and acting ability that will propel her far in French cinema. Her acting alone is reason to watch the film. Johan Heldenbergh, portraying Gabriel the film’s director, injects calmness into what could have deteriorated into mayhem. The soundtrack is mostly French rap a welcome change from its mainstream American cousin.
In the Cannes 2022 Film Festival the film won Grand Prix-Un Certain Regard. Opens Friday in New York and March 31 in Los Angeles with a United States national release to follow.
Directed by Lise Akoka and Romane Gueret.
You can see the trailer here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzWHZm5rhKU
RKS 2023 Film Rating 88/100.