Monday, December 10, 2018

Movie Review: The World is Yours

The World Is Yours *** ½ / *****
Directed by: Romain Gavras.
Written by: Karim Boukercha and Noé Debré and Romain Gavras.
Starring: Karim Leklou (Farès), Isabelle Adjani (Danny), Vincent Cassel (Henri), Oulaya Amamra (Lamya), François Damiens (René), Philippe Katerine (Vincent, l'avocat), Sam Spruell (Bruce), Gabby Rose (Brittany), Sofian Khammes (Poutine), Mounir Amamra (Mohamed 1), Mahamadou Sangaré (Mohamed 2).
There was a time – probably the late 1990s – when a crime movie as stylish and fun as The World is Yours would have been a big art house hit with audiences. Nowadays, it ends up on Netflix, where most people will ignore it. But you shouldn’t ignore The World is Yours because it is so much fun – and also, because there is a little bit underneath all of that fun, all of that style, that makes the film a little different. This is the opposite of a nihilistic crime movie. What does that make it – and idealistic crime movie? Sure, why not?
The story centers on Fares (Karim Leklou), who is a low level criminal, working as a middle man for an idiot drug dealer in France. His entire life has been involved in crime – his mother, Danny (Isabelle Adjani) is a con artist and thief, who will use anyone – including her son – in her schemes if it will work (she loves him though – at least as much as she can). Fares doesn’t want to be a criminal his whole life though. He has modest dreams of selling frozen treats – and just needs some money to get started. He pretty much had it all – and then his mother lost it. Now, in order to get what he wants, he has to pull off a drug deal in Spain. He assembles his team – his father figure/right hand man/conspiracy theorist Henri (Vincent Cassel), the object of his affection, and potential femme fatale Lamya (Oulaya Amamra) and two idiots both named Mohamed head to Spain in order to buy drugs from a Scottish drug dealer (Sam Spruell) – but of course, everything goes wrong and they end up kidnapping his daughter (Gabby Rose) instead. There are more characters and subplots to the movie – but if I tried to diagram them all, we’d be here all day (plus, I’m not sure I could – the plot is needlessly complex by design, to keep your heading spinning – but none of it matters all that much).
Fares is a strange character to have at the center of a crime movie like this. He’s sweet and doughy and trusting – and really, he doesn’t have a bad bone in his body. He shouldn’t be a criminal, because as he says, he doesn’t want to fuck anyone over. He’s in a world where everyone is constantly looking to fuck everyone else over – including him. The interesting thing about his plan is that he will do his best to make sure that he fucks over the least amount of people he can – and only those who really deserve it. For the most part, people get what they want – and the one guy he doesn’t is an asshole, so who cares about him.
The film really is about the different alliances Fares has to build – across political, racial, religious and gender lines that make up modern Europe. The film never hits you over the head with any of them – there isn’t a single discussion about any of it – but it’s there in the background throughout the film, and at times is used as a joke (a boat raid is only successful because the guys on the boat being raided think the two Mohamed’s are migrants for example “from Spain?” the less stupid of the two asks – but by then it’s too late.
The style of the film recalls early Guy Ritchie – there is a lot of chaotic action throughout, and throwaway gags and moments (like the moment when we see each Mohamed’s vision of the future). But director Romain Gavras has more heart than Ritchie ever did. He pauses to allow some more tender moments – even at the strangest times. There is also more genuine, sweet natured humor here than we expect.
No, The World is Yours is in no way realistic – nor is it pretending to be. The ending of the film in particular is straight up fantasy. But it’s a fantasy you want to believe in – so you do. And it comes at the end of a wildly entertaining film.

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