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24 January 2015 à 01:12

Review of "Vandal" by Télérama

Check out the reviews by our partner Télérama Magazine of each of the feature films in competition at MyFrenchFilmFestival.

Today's review:

A drama directed by Hélier Cisterne in 2013
Starring Zinedine Benchenine, Chloé Lecerf, Émile Berling... 
Release date in France: October 9, 2013

Rating: 3/5


Since his parents separated, 15-year-old Chérif, a young boy of Franco-Algerian descent, is heading for delinquency. His mother Hélène, unable to cope with her solitary and rebellious son, decides to send him to live with his aunt and uncle in Strasbourg, where his brother Farid also lives. Chérif must pick up his vocational training to become a builder at a technical high school. But he soon feels like he’s suffocating in his new life. Through his cousin Thomas, a new world opens up to him as he discovers graffiti artists who set to work every night on the walls of the city. He is fascinated by these young boys of his own age, who often hide their identities to protect themselves...


The most successful aspect of the film—and the film was clearly shot for this reason—is the focus on the graffiti scenes. Young people emerge at night to spray-paint the walls of the city. All we see is their faces, as they melt into the darkness whenever an intruder threatens their peace, only returning once the danger has passed. The most intense moment in this debut feature by Hélier Cisterne is when the hero enters the lair of his idol, the graffiti artist known as Vandal. Like him, we feel as though we have entered a bizarre museum suspended in time, where colors and shapes seem to offer an alternative to the emptiness of life.

Less convincing, however, are the filmmaker's endeavors to place his fantasy tale within a (poetic) realist framework, as the hero's problems with his mother, father, and then his uncle seem to get in the way in expressing his message: only the subtle presence of the graffiti artists appears to interest him, especially the role of two teenagers, Zinedine Benchenine and Émile Berling, who, high up on a rooftop, give vent to their—if only brief—cry of rebellion to the sleeping city.

Review by Pierre Murat for Télérama Magazine.

© Télérama


Author : Aurélie Padovan

Latest update : 25 January 2015 à 01:12 CET

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