A breezy and pertinent look at good-natured 20-year-olds from the low-income suburbs of Paris, “Zim and Co.” is engaging and enjoyable from first frame to last. With a realistic but humorous tone, pic addresses comfortable multi-cultural friendships, ambient racism and the uphill struggle to find gainful employment. From the peppy, energetic style and youthful content on display here, few viewers would guess that helmer and co-scripter Pierre Jolivet was born in 1952. Modest, entertaining and effortlessly educational portrait of contempo France deserves to travel.
A slender white guy with long dreamboat locks, Victor Zimbietrofsky (helmer’s son Adrien), who everyone calls Zim, plays guitar in a rock band, works under the table unloading produce at open air markets and is enterprising in a mellow way. When Zim tests positive for marijuana after his motorcycle is sideswiped by a vindictive motorist, he finds himself in Catch-22 land.
A minor previous infraction makes him a two-time offender. Under strict new sentencing guidelines he’ll end up in prison unless he can impress the judge with proof of a full-time job with a regulation contract and pay slips. Zim’s two best friends commiserate as he tries his darndest to land steady employment.
Chubby black kid Arthur (Yannick Nasso) is an apprentice in an auto repair program. His dad (Maka Kotto) is such a demanding disciplinarian that even viewers safely in their seats are likely to flinch at his no-nonsense authority.
Cheb (Mhamed Arezki), the product of a happy interracial marriage, is always cooking up entrepreneurial labor-saving gizmos. The three pals often eat at the Tunisian sandwich joint where spunky Safia (Naidra Ayadi) waits tables.
Zim, who lives with his easy-going mom (Nathalie Richard), finally does land a job. But he lied about having a car — and a driver’s license — and he starts in 10 days. Oh, yeah — he’ll need to come up with a high school diploma, too. And he’s broke.
The hoops Zim jumps through are daunting but plausible, each illustrating an aspect of how the deck is stacked against young people not on a college track, however capable and industrious they may be.
Shot entirely — save one scene — with a roving, hand-held camera, widescreen lensing is as buoyant as pic’s lively score, composed by co-star Adrien Jolivet with Sacha Sieff.