1h 35min | Comedy, Family, Drama | French with English subtitles
The film France can’t stop talking about!
Winner of the French César Award for Most Promising Actress (Camélia Jordana).
Neïla, a girl of Algerian descent, lives in a housing project in the suburbs of Paris with her mother and her grandmother.
She has good friends in the neighborhood, including a boyfriend named Mounir, an Uber driver.
Always a good pupil, she has decided to become a lawyer and to this end has enrolled at the Assas University in Paris.
But her first day proves a harrowing experience. Arriving late in the great amphitheater where Pierre Mazard, a seasoned but controversial law professor, gives his class, poor Neïla is taken to task by him, and in words tainted with racism.
Some students complain about Mazard’s attitude, which urges the President to intervene.
He firmly asks the prof that he do something to redeem himself.
And to this end, why not train his victim for the prestigious speech contest Assas is associated with? Reluctant at first, Pierre is forced to accept the deal.
But how will Neïla put up with working under the yoke of her torturer?
Polished in a very Hollywood sense — director Yvan Attal even uses the same opening Marvin Gaye song as J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year — the $11.5 million film flies by at an efficient 95 minutes and is saddled with a strong technical package, including widescreen cinematography from Remy Chevrin (Love Songs) that steeps the action in a fair amount of shadow and grain.
Director Yvan Attal’s Le Brio is a punchy, well-performed if somewhat formulaic two-hander about an Arab girl from the projects who learns to communicate en bon francais at the hands of a racist white professor. Such a feel-good scenario can definitely seem a bit contrived, if not downright manipulative, yet the characters are compelling enough to avoid becoming major clichés, while stars Camelia Jordana and Daniel Auteuil prove to be a winning pair.