CRITICAL / FILM OPINION: Disqualified from an objective criticism because of a suspicion of fascist ideology, “BAC Nord” does not deserve this trial of intent, as this good action thriller did not have at all the intended to be a social column or forensic film. It drives fast, it hits hard, it moves and it screams in all directions, but perhaps at the risk of delivering a drama of too weak subtlety …
To read all that is written on BAC North since its presentation at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, we have not found a lot of cinema vocabulary. Too much right-wing, fascist, voyeur, complacent towards corrupt cops … It took a clumsy intervention – endowed with a relevant background but a caricatural formulation – of an Irish journalist at the press conference of the film in Cannes, so that critics stop at the resumption of the qualification of Cédric Jimenez’s film as “tract for the election of Marine Le Pen”. Argument put forward among others: we are in the pre-election year. However, it is difficult to argue for a film that was produced in 2019, with an initially scheduled release in late 2020, far from a presidential election and before the last judicial decisions concerning the real facts of which BAC North is inspired. Contextual error, like also looking for a comparison between a French and Irish situation, especially since here it is not the capital, it is Marseille baby.
BAC North, chase in a minefield
The substance of the matter is nevertheless legitimate and interesting: we must examine the various portraits drawn up, those of the cops, those of the thugs, that of Marseille. Are they neat and complete? What is the intention, how is its realization? Cliches ? Perhaps. Whose fault is it ? Cédric Jimenez while writing and directing his film? A public coming to seek an ideological approach? The Cannes selection committee who presented a film that may not meet the performance criteria required by the Festival? Strange that in a festival where so many films with obvious political and social matters are displayed, the “debate” must be done on BAC North, including Lpolitical and social representation is passive. This representation exists, in fact, but if we say of it that it “betrays” a vision of the director, it is good that it exists. by default. Which in no way exonerates her from what she judges of the world, but what should have avoided in BAC North to be observed as an intentionally politically charged film. Because BAC North is a film which in its good part is a film governed by movement and action, physical for the actors and visual for the setting in scene, and that this intention occupies the realization to the point that everything else, and it is a pity, tends strongly to the anecdotal. Let’s not waste our strength on howling wolf where it is not.
The trial that is done at BAC North is a symptom of the evil of the century, an ordinary evil: we cut, we truncate, we interpret according to what we want to find, we only see what we want to see, we prejudge and finally we tell anything. The context ? No matter. The intention of the authors? Very whatever. French thrillers, good as well as bad, inspired by real events or not, however rarely pass to the grid of political analysis. From Melville to Marchal, via Arcady, Audiard, even Rochant, we say everything at leisure but never anything about their political significance. Is there an aesthetic level that abolishes all political matter? Perhaps, surely, when we note that much of the author’s cinema regularly celebrated, built on bourgeois dramas that are often conservative and completely out of the ground (isn’t it also a definition of being on the right than of not caring about politics?), does not raise any remark on their political and social representation.
We can therefore consider that BAC North has just paid arbitrarily for a sum of legitimate grievances, resentments and bad passions too, finally for the constant painting of the northern districts of Marseille in the ultimate circle of Hell, which is made by the cinema as by the news media which list the tragic list of settling of scores which occur there almost every week, and this for years.
BAC North also pays its postponement due to the health crisis, at a high price. Initially, the film was due to be released in theaters on December 23, 2020, some time later. Bronx by Olivier Marchal, another Marseille thriller who, blocked by the health crisis, was released on Netflix on October 30. Has the latter received criticism of his political background, his assumed virilism, his rampant conservatism and his rooting in a cinema that tends to glorify the cops and their …