Why did Ladj Ly, founder of Koutrajme with Kim Chapiron and Romain Gavras, call his film Les Miserables? Victor Hugo’s book takes place in Montfermeil in the 19th century, as does Ladj Ly’s film. And as Pento insinuated (one of the cops that the camera follows throughout the film): “the situation has not changed much since”. Of course there is no more Gavroche, Cosette, and Jean Valjean. But the situation seems even more precarious, even crazier than that of France at the end of the nineteenth century. And when Ladj Ly triumphant like a Valjean of the modern time, with his version in Cannes, he leaves with the award “Jury price” from the prestigious festival. Just as Mathieu Kassovitz won with “La Haine”, the award of “best director” in Cannes, 1995.
There is an inextricable link between Ladj Ly’s film and Mathieu Kassovitz’s feature film, which was released in 1995 for the publics interest. Ladj starts the films first scences with the same feeling/theme as “La Haine”, Kassovitz. The film shows the reality of the suburns on the verge of explosion. Managed and ruled by corrupted men. He also starts up and finish the movie with the same actor, Said (Said Tagmahoui). The film also eventually ends with an “open end”, such as “La Haine”.
On the other hand, Kourtajme is far from being a “copycat”. Instead of following a gang of young people, he follows the opposite, a team of police-men throughout the film. Analyzes the structure, and aspects of life in Montfermeil. Between sarcasm, dark humor, and reality the real sensation that emerges from this film is a sense of authenticity. As if we had been projected from our headquarters in Montfermeil in an explosive atmosphere. The realization of Ladj Ly resonates like an urban poetry. Like verses of the “wise poets of the street” who have never had their names as well. The film is silent, no debauchery in Hip Hop. With no doubt, it is a wish from the director. Because all the movies that followed after the release of “La Haine” poured into that very same stereotype.
Ladj Ly preffered realism, like Victor Hugo, rather than a stereotyped vision. Everyone have a part to blame in this tragedy of modern times. Or the only innocent victims are the children whose only fault was to being born in the wrong place and especially at the wrong time.