Les Sauvages – Vote for Roschdy !
The new political tv-show seats Roschdy Zem
as the first French Kabyle president’s chair.
A hard but successful task signed by Rebecca Zlotowski.
By Garance Lunven
Reading time 3 min.
Risky. The first word passing through the mind while reading the new series’ pitch. Product of two brilliant minds’ collaboration, director Rebecca Zlotowski (An Easy Girl) and writer Sabri Louatah whose literary saga inspired the show, Canal+ sticks its neck out. So get ready for a French Algerian president, an attack and a subtext about immigration. All that being carried by an excellent cast, among them, Marina Fois as a security manager for the president, rapper Sofiane Zermani as a radicalized inmate, Dali Benssalah, starring in the next James Bond movie, and Shaïn Boumedine seen in Mektoub My Love. What could have dig the show’s grave, as Marseilles (Netflix, 2016), a melodramatic soap with vaudeville affairs, finally works thank to the upfront political commitment. The only common ground between the two could actually be the habit to clean the dirty laundry with the family.
Toute la société française est passée au crible,
du système judiciaire à la police
A familial saga
After Family Buisness’ hit and Parasite’s triumph in Cannes, this is clearly the dysfunctional family year. And Les Sauvages won’t upset it. The show focuses on the future president’s campaign, Idder Chaouch performed by the unfathomable Roschdy Zem (Oh Mercy!), accompanied by his daughter Jasmine. The Chaouchs’ future in bound to the Nerrouches’, one of their son being married to Jasmine. An unstable mix as his brother is responsible for the attack on the newly elected president. Also because everything differs between the bourgeois president’s family and the Nerrouches living in huge buildings in Saint-Etienne. While on is on the cover of Paris Match and socialize in town houses, the other is celebrating a traditional wedding under Ululations. Two rooms, two moods to approach the subject of French identity for the generations that came after the immigration. Lost, silenced, racialized and condemned to endure the heavy (and not so far) colonial heritage.
A mirror to actual France
If Les Sauvages gives its thoughts about state racism, it doesn’t forget social inequities. We got used to it in Zlotowki’s films such as Belle Epine and Grand Central. The whole French society is sifted through, from the judiciary system to the police, including the relentless media coverage. Resorting to live from BFMTV, with debates and live report of the attacks. Realistic and brutal, but objective, the series is a tensed reflection of the French politics. The election of a president from Kabyle background is closer to Barack Obama’s own career than Michel Houellebecq’s Soumission. In here, President Chaouch has to face the far right rise, the institutionalized racism and fundamentalists Islam.
Black Mirror Generation
Dystopia captivates filmmakers and screenwriters for years now. As demonstrated by the recent release of the excellent Years and Years, predicting a mountain of issues caused by populism. A futuristic and dark picture impulse by the inventive Black Mirror in 2011, to which we owe the renewal of the genre. Though the futuristic part of Les Sauvages is more tempered, without any references to the new technologies, which makes the social statement stronger. Ironically, an Arabic descendant president election does not seem oddball. It is rather the craze and engagement of French people toward the political life that feels awkward. Making you laugh mirthlessly.