L’ordre et la morale | Mathieu Kassovitz, 2011
France | Format: Digital | 136 minutes
A compelling and tightly directed thriller about a team of elite counter-terrorism hostage negotiators who attempt to resolve a standoff between political separatists and the French military in the Pacific island of New Caledonia. Based on a controversial real-life incident from 1988 little known outside of France, the film begins in the aftermath of a brutal jungle firefight and backtracks to the dispatching of the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group team under the leadership of Capt. Philippe Legorjus, effectively played by director Kassovitz. Arriving on the island, Legorjus is alarmed to find that in response to the killing of three gendarmes and the kidnapping of 27 hostages by Kanak rebels, a full-scale military response is already being prepared. Soon faced with political interference due to France’s impending General Election, and undermined by the French military command, Legorjus races against time to avert further violence by making contact and negotiating with the separatists. Best known for 1995’s La Haine, actor-director Kassovitz here delivers his best film by far, handling the material with uncharacteristic restraint and intelligence.
Series: Film Comment Selects 2012