Screened as part of NZIFF 2019

Les Misérables 2019

Directed by Ladj Ly World

In the crime-ridden suburbs of impoverished Paris, the line between corrupt cop and upstanding criminal is not so clearly defined, in this explosive, Cannes Jury Prize-winning French thriller.

France In French with English subtitles
104 minutes CinemaScope/DCP




Toufik Ayadi
Christophe Barral


Ladj Ly
Giordano Gederlini
Alexis Manenti


Julien Poupard


Flora Volpelière

Production designer

Karim Lagati

Costume designer

Marine Galliano


Pink Noise


Damien Bonnard
Alexis Manenti
Djebril Zonga
Issa Perica
Al-Hassan Ly
Steve Tientcheu
Almamy Kanoute
Nizar Ben Fatma
Raymond Lopez
Luciano Lopez
Jaihson Lopez
Jeanne Balibar
Omar Soumare
Sana Joachaim
Lucas Omiri


Cannes (In Competition) 2019


Jury Prize, Cannes Film Festival 2019


About as far from being a rousing stage musical as is possible, Les Misérables’ exhilarating, engrossing portrait of war on the streets between a swaggering Anti-Crime Squad and the myriad gangs they are trying to police shared the Jury Prize at Cannes.

In sharp contrast to the opening scenes of a unified France celebrating its 2018 World Cup win on the Champs-Élysées, the film takes place in a troubled Paris suburb over the course of a tightly-wrought couple of days, recalling Training Day with its portrayal of compromised cops, the crossing of ethical lines and the conscience of a newcomer. But director Ladj Ly’s rendition of the drug- and poverty-stricken banlieues of working-class France is less Hollywood and more naturalistic à la The Wire, with astonishing performances by everyone from his three lead thugs to the indignant crooks, beleaguered immigrant families and children caught in the crossfire.

Ly’s 15-year career in documentary, focusing on sociopolitical issues arising from events such as the 2005 Paris riots, clearly informs his approach to this fictional, but all-too-relevant, tale. Les Misérables is his first dramatic feature, but his realist fingerprints are all over it, notably in a key plot point which remarkably derives from autobiographical experience.

Complex in its morality, lacking judgement of its characters, Les Misérables is a high-energy, contemporary musing on the problems explored by Victor Hugo over 150 years ago. — Sarah Watt

 “When the police, through brutality, have lost the trust of their neighbourhood, it doesn’t matter who’s really in charge; violence is inevitable. The curtain between uneasy peace and outright war is gauzy indeed.” — Alissa Wilkinson, Vox

“This… slice of realist French cinema… bursts out with the same vigour, passion and realism as Mathieu Kassovitz’s La Haine.” — Richard Mowe, Eye For Film