The Connection ***Dir: Cédric Jimenez. With: Jean Dujardin, Gilles Lellouche, Céline Sallette, Mélanie Doutey. 135 mins. Cert: 15
This confident Gallic takeback of the true-life story underpinning the Popeye Doyle films of the 1970s proves both narratively engrossing and skilful in its marshalling of the widescreen frame. As magistrate Jean Dujardin adopts ever riskier methods to bring druglord Gilles Lellouche to justice, co-writer/director Cédric Jimenez can’t swerve many of the usual retro crime-movie clichés: yes, higher-ups advise our hero to halt his investigation, and yes, Dujardin’s weary spouse eventually takes the kids to her mother’s place. Yet the actors impose themselves, rather than simply trying on these sideburns for size: the film’s too busy to settle for pastiche. If its shape and trajectory are quickly felt out, Jimenez hauls in punchy story and character beats – the destination of a bribe the magistrate accepts, Lellouche’s near-anaphylactic reaction to Kim Wilde’s “Cambodia” – while Dujardin’s sweaty gravitas will be a revelation to those who’ve only seen him pantomiming in silent movies and Nespresso ads.
The Connection opens in selected cinemas from today.