La Squale

Opening to a gang rape and branding (in the name of Suleiman, a legendary gang leader gone AWOL), this sets out its stall straight off. Cousin to La Haine, but exchanging Kassovitz's hyperactive camera for a more studied framing against which the endemic violence of French immigrant ghetto life beats like harsh weather, the film boasts an undeniable street-level authenticity. The squale, or rebellious adolescent, of the title is Desirée, a wired and angry new kid on the block who, not knowing her father's identity, claims she's the absent Suleiman's daughter. Soon she's heading up the neighbourhood girl gang while bedding down with genetically unreliable and vicious local hood Toussaint. Add familial breakdown to the mix and the main goal is trying to stay human amid such alienation and despair. Efficiently paced with sudden sharp jolts of real aggression, it's no joyride but, seeded with small daily hopes, the film finds a truthful balance in refusing to let environmental frustration entirely smother the delayed aspirations of Desirée and her like for a simple stability.

Release details

Duration: 99 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Fabrice Genestal
Screenwriter: Fabrice Genestal, Nathalie Valloud
Cast: Esse Lawson
Tony Mpoudja
Khereddine Ennasri
Stéphanie Jaubert
Denis Lavant
Foued Nassah
François Delaive
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