A punchy, vigorously paced drama about drugs, rootlessness and the journey out of the tunnel of addiction, “A Pure Moment of Rock ‘n’ Roll” represents a confident feature bow for director Manuel Boursinhac. But its themes and style have been largely played out in the gritty post–“La Haine” French cinema of recent years. While it’s well performed by an edgy young cast, the film has too few new angles on dependence and desolation, and looks unlikely to wield much commercial impact.
Aspiring novelist Eric (Vincent Elbaz) and his girlfriend (Laurence Cote) hang with a group of junkies who finance their habit through petty crime. But when cops bust him for possession, Eric’s only means of avoiding prison is to check into a countryside rehab center. Helped by his roommate (Samy Naceri), and by the creative release of his writing, Eric finds temporary redemption. Propelled by tight, rhythmic editing and muscular camerawork, the not-uninvolving drama balances hope with a sobering sense of reality. But the script lacks a cohesive point of view in its take on the struggle to survive, and the characters remain too remote to invite much sympathy.