Movie Review – Banlieusards (Street Flow)

TL;DR – A fascinating narrative of life on the outskirts of Paris and what it means for the people that live there.    

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Banlieusards (Street Flow). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

Like many cities today Paris is a tale of two halves, the city and then the outer suburbs. There are times when they are almost two different worlds even though they are deeply interconnected. Within these worlds and the stories of those lives that are shaped by their worlds, their struggles, and the forces they can’t control.

 On the outskirts of Paris lives Soulaymaan (Jammeh Diangana), his brother Noumouké (Bakary Diombera), and their mother Khadijah (Kani Diarra). Soulaymaan is preparing for his final exam as part of his law degree, hoping to create a better life for him and his family. However, his younger brother is at a crossroads, he could follow in Soulaymaan’s path or that of his brother Demba (Kery James) who run drugs in the local area after spending some time in jail.

Banlieusards (Street Flow). Image Credit: Netflix.
It is a film that explores two different worlds and how they come together. Image Credit: Netflix.

This world is explored through two different yet intersecting stories. On the one hand, we have a problem with Noumouké who has started fighting at school. He feels destined to go down the road of his brother, a road of drugs, money, and jail. However, Noumouké like the idea of that world but not the reality which he discovers when it stuffs up badly. On the other hand, we have Soulaymaan who is in his last year at University studying law. As part of the final preparation he has to appear in a great debate against another student Lisa (Chloé Jouannet). The topic is that “The State is responsible for what is happening in the suburbs” with Soulaymaan arguing that it is not.

Because these two stories complement each other, they mirror the highs and lows of each side. As things start to unravel at home and Demba steps up to be a more positive role model for Noumouké it also comes at the point where Soulaymaan is shaken to his core and set of in a spiral. There is a lot to champion in this film and one area that I want to give so much credit for is the powerful performance of Kani Diarra staying strong in the face of everything going wrong around her. There is real pain throughout this film, a pain that comes from living this experience. This is a film that does not shy away from the realities of life in the suburbs nor does it glamorise them. It is a lens into the real, the real of living life as part of group excluded by society.

Banlieusards (Street Flow). Image Credit: Netflix.
writer/Director/Star Kery James is a powerful force of will throughout the film. Image Credit: Netflix.

This is clearly a passion project for writer/director/star Kery James and we see the strength of that throughout the film. The real highlight for me was a bit towards the end so there will be some [SPOILERS] here. The climax of the film is the said debate, which does a really good job of touching on all the themes and plot points brought up throughout the film. Because the relationship between Lisa and Soulaymaan is somewhat strained there is tension from the moment they walk in. Then when the debate starts it quickly evolves from a point/counterpoint back and forth into a clash of words. There is a musical flow to the debate as they duel words and ideas, each making some biting commentary about each other. Also while this is going on they are reconciling with each other whilst also taking each other down. It was a really fascinating moment of drama and I would recommend the film just for that.

In the end, do we recommend Street Flow? Yes, yes we do. It has strong performances, it is dealing with issues that need to be explored, and its narrative is constructed in a really compelling way.     

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you watched Street Flow?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
 


Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Street Flow
Directed by
– Leïla Sy & Kery James
Written by – Kery James
Music by – Kery James
Cinematography by – Pierre Aïm
Edited by – Nelly Quettier
Production/Distribution Companies – Srab Films, Les Films Velvet, L’Insensé Films & Netflix
Starring – Kery James, Jammeh Diangana, Bakary Diombera, Chloé Jouannet, Kani Diarra, Slimane Dazi, Noemie Bousquainaud, Kader Boukhanef & Dali Benssalah
Rating – Around an Australia: MA15+;

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