Olivier Marchal / France/Belgium / 2011 / 102 mins
From The Godfather through to The Departed, gangster films have always explored the idea of crime being organised like a family, with binds and ties that are sometimes stronger. In this respect, Olivier Marchal’s A Gang Story is nothing ground-breaking but it’s certainly a decent francophone addition to the genre.
A Gang Story is based on the true story of Edmond Vidal (known to his friends as Momon). After many years of retirement from the infamous Lyonnais gang, Vidal is forced to break his erstwhile brother-in-arms out of prison. From thereon, however, events begin to slip out of Vidal’s control…
Gérard Lanvin is very good as the brooding rough diamond that is Vidal (albeit somewhat more chiselled than his real life counterpart), making the character of a vicious-yet-virtuous criminal who values family and loyalty above all else convincing. The extensive – probably just short of excessive – use of flashbacks also create a detailed back-story, which places the audience firmly on Vidal’s side. However, some of the other characters always seem slightly too underdeveloped and a little too dodgy to ever be entirely kosher, which occasionally results in some unsurprising plot twists. That being said, the production values could almost equal those of a Hollywood film and help to make A Gang Story entertaining if not innovative.
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