Inspired by the incendiary 2005 French riots, “Les Misérables” follows three members of an anti-crime brigade who must navigate roiling gang tensions. Though the title echoes Victor Hugo’s work, this is not yet another adaptation of Gavroche’s woes. The connection is instead the location – Montfermeil, famous as the location of Thenardiers’ inn in Hugo’s novel, it remains a place of extreme poverty a century later.
This is a strident and urgent account of the crippling social injustice that exists in the poorest neighborhoods of Paris. In the uncompromising spirit of Mathieu Kassovitz’s seminal “La Haine”(1995), director Ladj Ly focusses on the area he grew up in to viscerally depict the reality of life in these forsaken housing projects. It is a film Ly has wanted to make for more than two decades, drawing on his own life experiences it also includes drone footage from the riots.