×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Sandmen

A taut, emotionally involving thriller in which small-time crime engenders big-time stakes, "The Sandmen" is a sad and solid little movie whose tragic tale could easily feel derivative but never does. Fourth feature from Pierre Salvadori -- previously known for offbeat comedies like "Wild Target" and "The Apprentices" -- is anchored by fine character perfs in the service of an affecting, carefully constructed script. Telecast in March (as part of cultural web Arte's "Left/Right" series) in a shorter version called "Detour," this is the nicely tooled feature-length version.

With:
Damien - Robert Castel Antoine - Mathieu Demy Alain - Serge Riaboukine Stephane - Guillaume Depardieu Marie - Marina Golovine Xavier - Patrick Lizana Annick - Michele Moretti

A taut, emotionally involving thriller in which small-time crime engenders big-time stakes, “The Sandmen” is a sad and solid little movie whose tragic tale could easily feel derivative but never does. Fourth feature from Pierre Salvadori — previously known for offbeat comedies like “Wild Target” and “The Apprentices” — is anchored by fine character perfs in the service of an affecting, carefully constructed script. Telecast in March (as part of cultural web Arte’s “Left/Right” series) in a shorter version called “Detour,” this is the nicely tooled feature-length version.

Set in Paris’ 18th arrondissement, pic opens on a neighborhood cafe in flames. A man stumbles out, heads straight for a police station and announces, “I’ve come to say I killed a man.” Alain (Serge Riaboukine) begins his confession, which triggers the body of the film in flashback.

It all started a few months earlier when attractive, twentysomething Marie (Marina Golovine) entered Alain’s humble cafe, Le Detour, demanding the address of her brother, Antoine (Mathieu Demy), to whom she had been writing in care of Le Detour during her 14 months in prison. Brother and sister are extremely, perhaps incestuously, close, and Antoine deals hard drugs from his tiny apartment.

That night, the siblings get a scary visit from a blond man with a limp who demands money. He turns out to be Stephane (Guillaume Depardieu who, like Riaboukine, has appeared in all of helmer’s films), a waiter at the fancier cafe opposite Le Detour.

Neighborhood businessman Damien (Robert Castel) hopes to convince Alain to enlarge Le Detour, add a terrace and put in pinball machines to be overseen by his nephew, Xavier (Patrick Lizana). Modest, honest and self-sufficient, lumpy Alain hesitates.

While Damien pitches pricey remodeling, Xavier offers Antoine a chance to make some quick money, delivering a package of dope to some dealers in a hotel. Through a nicely handled chain of mini-events, Antoine decides to keep the hefty payoff for himself and tries to give Xavier and his two associates the slip. After a harrowing, keenly lensed chase on foot through nighttime streets, Antoine is critically injured. Eventually, Marie seeks revenge.

Infused with casual but constant urban tension and an emotional immediacy proper to melodrama, pic flows neatly between different characters and their clumsy or meticulous gestures. Golovine is a shade too beautiful and a little too textbook-intense in the midst of so much sordid activity, but other thesps are spot on. Michele Moretti, with a key monologue late in the proceedings, is excellent as the lady in charge of Le Detour’s fancier competitor.

Carefully chosen music, from reggae to a live perf in a club by composer Camille Baz Baz, contributes to the controlled portrait of unfortunate happenstance.

The Sandmen

France

Production: A Les Films du Losange release of an Agat Films & Co./Les Films Pelleas production, with participation of CNC, Sofica Gimages 2, Gimages Developpement, La Sept/Arte. Produced by Philippe Martin, Gilles Sandoz. Directed by Pierre Salvadori. Screenplay, Nicolas Saada, Salvadori.

Crew: Camera (color), Gilles Henry; editor, Isabelle Devinck; music, Camille Baz Baz; art directors, Yan Arlaud, Sandrine Jarron; costume designer, Virginie Montel; sound (Dolby), Laurent Poirier, Joel Rangon; assistant director, Frederic Nicolas; casting, Alain Charbit. Reviewed at UGC Cine Cite Les Halles, Paris, July 25, 2000. Running time: 103 MIN.

With: Damien - Robert Castel Antoine - Mathieu Demy Alain - Serge Riaboukine Stephane - Guillaume Depardieu Marie - Marina Golovine Xavier - Patrick Lizana Annick - Michele Moretti

More Film

  • Lisa Borders Time's Up

    Time's Up President Lisa Borders Resigns

    Lisa Borders has resigned as president of Time’s Up, she and the organization announced on Monday. Borders is resigning due to family issues, she said in a statement. Time’s Up COO Rebecca Goldman will now serve as interim CEO. “As Time’s Up continues to grow, I am proud of the work I have done to [...]

  • Keira Knightly as "Rachael Morgan" in

    Film Review: Keira Knightley in 'The Aftermath'

    Less widely seen (and acclaimed) than it deserved to be, James Kent’s debut feature “Testament of Youth” was one of the great recent love-in-wartime dramas, translating the intimate romance and sprawling human tragedy of Vera Brittain’s WWI memoir with a grace and heft worthy of its David Lean allusions. Four years on, it’s not hard [...]

  • Inside Amazon's New Feature Film Strategy

    Amazon's New Film Strategy: Straight-to-Service Titles and Starry Sundance Buys

    It was close to midnight when Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke got the text. The company had failed in its quest to acquire “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” a body image dramedy that captivated Salke when she saw it at Sundance. A sales agent on the project messaged her to say that a competitor offered a [...]

  • Alfonso Cuaron71st Annual Writers Guild Awards,

    Alfonso Cuarón on Academy's 'Inevitable' Reversal on Televised Oscar Categories

    Alfonso Cuarón isn’t exactly surprised that the Academy reversed its decision and will now air all the Oscar categories during the live show on Sunday. Feb. 24. Calling the decision “inevitable,”Cuarón tells Variety that he thinks the Academy should take things even further. “Let’s stop calling them technical categories!” he told Variety on Sunday night [...]

  • TorinoFilmLab Announces Selections for 2019 ScriptLab

    TorinoFilmLab Announces Selections for 2019 ScriptLab (EXCLUSIVE)

    The TorinoFilmLab has announced the 20 feature projects and five story editor trainees who have been selected to take part in the 2019 edition of ScriptLab, an initiative focused on the development of fiction feature film scripts in early development stage. Beginning in March, this year’s participants will team up with filmmakers from around the [...]

  • Alita Battle Angel

    North American Box Office Declines From Last Year With Weak Presidents Day Weekend

    “Alita: Battle Angel” easily won a tepid Presidents Day weekend with a $34.2 million at 3,790 North American locations, estimates showed Monday. Overall domestic moviegoing for 2019 has plunged 22.1% to $1.24 billion as of Monday, according to Comscore. That’s $350 million below the same date a year ago and the lowest figure at this [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content