×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘The World Is Yours’

Romain Gavras delivers on the potential suggested by debut 'Our Day Will Come' with this crowd-pleasing Tarantino-esque crime saga.

Director:
Romain Gavras
With:
Karim Leklou, Isabelle Adjani, Vincent Cassel

American audiences take the Tarantino-ization of genre cinema for granted, but not so the French, who adore the director (who won the Palme d’Or for “Pulp Fiction”) but never went so far as to imitate him outright, until now. Director Romain Gavras’ “The World Is Yours” is the long overdue yet entirely unnecessary gangster movie that French audiences have been missing all this time — a fresh riff on “Les Tontons flingueurs” by way of “Jackie Brown” — and judging by the uproarious reception the film received at its Director’s Fortnight premiere in Cannes, they’re grateful to have a cocky, talky, high-attitude crime saga for themselves.

Following Gavras’ gonzo redheads-will-inherit-the-earth debut, “Our Day Will Come,” this film is a massive change of tone for the director, son of politically conscious “Z” auteur Costa-Gavras and a visionary music-video helmer in his own right. Whereas the younger Gavras’ first feature demonstrated both his high-level technical skill and the confidence to subvert audience expectations, this one feels more mainstream — and ought to do big business in France while remaining more of a cult novelty abroad (maybe the world isn’t theirs after all).

Though the title sounds like a variation on “Our Day Will Come,” film buffs should recognize it as a wink to the granddaddy of modern gangster movies — not “The Godfather” but Brian De Palma’s “Scarface,” which was just as much an influence on Gavras here as “Reservoir Dogs.” Still, Tarantino is the clear model for the movie’s colorful gallery of criminal types, who express themselves in self-consciously cool, pop-culture-referencing dialogue (in the second scene, when a getaway driver shares a long-winded analysis of kitschy French pop song “La vie ne m’apprend rien,” you can guess where Gavras got the idea). Scraping by on the periphery of the Paris underworld, these small-time hoods would be right at home in a Guy Ritchie caper, though Gavras and co-writers Karim Boukercha et Noé Debré expand the cartoonish archetype by incorporating aspects of class and race.

To the near total exclusion of the white characters who typically dominate French cinema (with the exception of “Our Day Will Come” star Vincent Cassel, who holds a kind of honorary place in this Maghrebi gang), “World” centers on second- and third-generation immigrants, African and Arabic alike, fighting to assert their place in a culture that so often disrespects them — although they would never put it that way. These guys just want to get rich, which mild-mannered François (Karim Leklou) is trying to do the old-fashioned way, hoping to make an honest living by negotiating a contract to distribute Mister Freeze ice pops in North Africa. But François is kind of a dope, easily conned and not assertive enough to run a business, much less do his own laundry.

François lives at home with his domineering mother, Danny (Isabelle Adjani, embracing her half-Algerian heritage in hilariously flamboyant fashion), a self-appointed prima donna who lives in a nondescript suburban apartment but dresses like a Saudi oil-tycoon’s wife, with her oversize designer shades and extravagant headscarves. Reminiscent of Jacki Weaver’s imperious turn in “Animal Kingdom,” Adjani is the best thing about the movie, bossing her son around one moment and gambling away his savings the next. She’s not the slightest bit put off by his criminal activities. Au contraire, Danny can be a ruthless lawbreaker when the occasion calls for it — as in an early set-piece where she and a bunch of her friends pull off an elaborate shoplifting scam at Paris’ Galeries Lafayette department store.

To raise enough money to finance his Mister Freeze project, François agrees to oversee a major drug deal in Spain for his boss Putin (Sofian Khammes, a cut-up whose big personality and bizarre mannerisms feel a bit too eccentric), who sends along two of his least reliable thugs, both named Mohamed, to complicate things. For his part, François invites Henry (Cassell, amusingly thickheaded as an ex-con — soon to be one of Danny’s future ex-boyfriends) and bad girl Lamya (Oulaya Amamara), who’s not really interested in him but fancies the idea of a free trip to Barcelona.

Nothing goes as expected — which, of course, is just what audiences are expecting from a movie like this, which thrives on a kind of organized chaos in which things appear to spin ferociously out of control, all the while advancing toward an orderly conclusion that only its architects could have foreseen. Gavras has a slick touch, reteaming with DP André Chemetoff to convey the sense that behind every unpredictable move — including but not limited to double-crosses, narco-terrorism, a kidnapping, and a desperate call home to Mommy — stands a storyteller in total command of the chessboard.

These criminals may be out of their league, but Gavras orchestrates it all with a surfeit of style and an irreverent sense of humor that spares no one, no matter their background. The film is proudly non-PC, especially as concerns the various immigrant groups involved (Adjani delivers the coup de grâce during the finale, set at a crowded waterpark, where she comes out rocking a head-to-toe burkini).

Casting directors Philippe Elkoubi and Des Hamilton have assembled a veritable rogues’ gallery of ugly mugs — actors with big ears and crooked noses — that would be right at home in a Dick Tracy strip. Leklou holds his own among all these odd-looking faces. Introduced by “A Prophet” and taken seriously ever since his leading turn in 2015 French indie “Heat Wave,” the actor proves fascinating to watch: He could pass for Travis Bickle’s slow cousin, lumbering and harmless on the outside yet possessed by something scary behind his eyes — after a lifetime of repression, dominated by his mother, Francois is primed to explode. Gavras never fully taps into that potential, though he certainly recognizes Leklou’s underdog appeal. If this crazy world should go to anyone, it might as well be him.

Film Review: 'The World Is Yours'

Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard), May 12, 2018. Running time: 100 MIN. (Original title: “Le monde est à toi”)

Production: An Iconoclast, Chi-Fou-Mi presentation and production, in co-production with Studiocanal, NJJ Entertainment, Tribus P Films, Romain Gavras, 120 Films, with the participation of Canal Plus, Ciné Plus. (International sales: Studiocanal, Paris.) Producers: Charles Marie Anthonioz, Mourad Belkeddar, Jean Duhamel, Nicolas Lhermite, Vincent Mazel, Hugo Selignac. Co-producer: Paul Dominique Vacharasinthu.

Crew: Director: Romain Gavras. Screenplay: Gavras, Noé Debbe, Karim Boukercha. Camera (color, widescreen): Andre Chemetoff. Editor: Benjamin Weill. Music: Jamie XX, Sebastian.

With: Karim Leklou, Isabelle Adjani, Vincent Cassel, Oulaya Amamra, Sam Spruell, Gabby Rose, Sofian Khammes, Mounir Mamra, Mahamadou Sangare, François Damiens, Philippe Katerine. (French, English dialogue)

More Film

  • FilmNation logo

    FilmNation Promotes Ashley Fox, Brad Zimmerman to SVP of Production (EXCLUSIVE)

    FilmNation Entertainment, the independent studio behind “Arrival” and “Room,” has promoted Ashley Fox and Brad Zimmerman to senior VPs of production. The pair will source and develop material that can be transformed into movies and will oversee film productions on behalf of the company. They will continue to report to Ben Browning, FilmNation’s president of [...]

  • Chinese artist Ai Weiwei poses after

    Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei Accuses 'I Love You, Berlin' Producers of Censorship

    The executive producer of anthology film “Berlin, I Love You” is engaged in a war of words with Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, whose contribution to the movie was left on the cutting-room floor. Ai contends that the segment he shot for “Berlin, I Love You” was axed by the producers for political reasons, out [...]

  • Oscars Nominees Popular Movies

    Oscar Best Picture Race Dominated by Box Office Winners

    This year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ ill-fated popular film Oscar category could have just as easily been dubbed “best picture.” That’s because the crop of movies vying to take home the top prize represents the highest-grossing group of best picture nominees in nearly a decade. The eight films in the category [...]

  • Isabela Moner Marcel Ruiz Rosa Salazar

    Variety Announces 10 Latinxs to Watch 2019

    Variety has announced this year’s 10 Latinxs to Watch, and has also selected the Miami Film Festival as a partner for the annual celebration of promising talent in the Latino community that will include a panel and film screenings. This year’s honorees are Isabela Moner (“Dora the Explorer”), Rosa Salazar (“Alita: Battle Angel,” “Bird Box”), [...]

  • New Regency Launches U.K.-Based International TV

    New Regency Launches International TV Division With Scott Free Alum Ed Rubin

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” co-producer New Regency has launched a London-based international TV division, recruiting former Scott Free exec Ed Rubin to run the new operation and hiring Emma Broughton from The Ink Factory (“The Night Manager”) as head of scripted. New Regency produced “The Revenant,” “12 Years a Slave” and “Birdman.” It recently opened up shop [...]

  • Kate Bosworth'Nona' film premiere, New York,

    Kate Bosworth Helps Launch Campaign for Female Filmmakers

    In her 20-year career in Hollywood, Kate Bosworth has starred in blockbusters like “Superman Returns” as well as indie darlings like 2014’s “Still Alice.” But the actress has always had a desire to get more involved from the ground up. Now, she is partnering with Women In Film and Chloe Wine Collection to launch the [...]

  • Black Panther

    'Black Panther,' 'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Westworld' Among Costume Designers Guild Winners

    “Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” walked away with top honors at the 21st annual Costume Designers Guild Awards Tuesday night, the final industry guild show before the Oscars on Feb. 24. “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” are up for the Oscar this year, along with “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” “Mary Poppins [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content