Inhabiting a squalid slum, along with his obstinate old mother and his daughter, Nara (Darmon) has problems. He is forever threatened with eviction; his job, to say the least, is less than secure; and he is the constant victim of contempt and prejudice emanating from 'respectable' society, whose guardians are the surly gendarmes. For Nara is a gypsy, and as such is automatically relegated to the lower echelons of French society. Gatlif's episodic study of the gitanes of modern France carries plentiful conviction, thanks no doubt to the fact that the director is himself of Romany stock. The grim options afforded his nomadic heroes are depicted with grainy realism (Jacques Loiseleux's muted, sombre photography providing countless evocative images of a France rarely shown on film), and Gatlif rarely sentimentalises: the gypsies' macho, patriarchal culture is viewed critically, while moments of humour alleviate the film's downbeat thrust.