Screened as part of NZIFF 2012
In his most visceral and impassioned outing since 1995’s La Haine, Mathieu Kassovitz dramatises the extraordinary French military response to a New Caledonia hostage-taking in 1988.
Starring as Philippe Legorjus, a captain in an elite counterterrorist division hastily dispatched to the Pacific territory, Kassovitz leads a uniformly excellent cast. Upon arrival he discovers that the French army has been deployed too. Legorjus’ efforts to achieve a resolution through negotiation with the indigenous Kanak independence group clash with the blunter approach of the army and a different agenda from above. His attempts to earn the trust of the hostage takers’ leader, depicted in scenes of searing intensity, are constantly imperilled by a political battle playing out in Paris. Prime Minister Jacques Chirac is challenging François Mitterrand for the presidency, and the distant conflict has become a central issue. Chirac is determined that the rebellion be quelled, by whatever means. And time is running out.
Based on Legorjus’ memoir, Rebellion has all the seat-edge energy of a thriller, buttressed by a real political heft. It delivers a gripping illustration of the bloody, expedient and far-reaching potential impact of colonial powers’ internal political squabbles. — TM
“Displaying all the earmarks of a tightly made action drama, with effective topnotch camera work, nervous editing to pump energy in every scene, a cast driven to perform at full steam and an off-screen narration bridging eventual gaps, Kassovitz’s film inexorably moves ahead towards a pre-ordained climax.” — Dan Fainaru, Screendaily