Entertainment

Our review of La Petite Bande: The Club of Five goes underground


Filmed in Corsica in landscapes of insolent beauty, The Little Band play the adventure card. 2022 LFP – LES FILMS PELLÉAS / GAUMONT / FRANCE 2 CINEMA / TOVO FILMS

CRITICISM – Director Pierre Salvadori offers himself a tenth film in the form of an ecological fable for children. As delightful as endearing.

Since The four hundred Blows of Truffaut, the films on childhood make recipe. Within this film genre, as subtle as it is delicate, there is a sub-genre to be reckoned with, the strip film.

Since The War of the Buttons, a novel by Louis Pergaud adapted by Yves Robert (with the success that we know) from 1962, French cinema established some immutable rules; Richard Donner offered an American version of it in the 1980s thanks to Goonies (1985), quickly followed by the endearing stand-by-me by Rob Reiner (1986). For his tenth film, Pierre Salvadori (The trainees, Freely!…. ) wanted to treat himself to his own “strip film”. And he was right.

His sense of burlesque works wonders when he attempts to depict a small group of pre-teens in commando operation. Shot in the heart of the Corsican hinterland, not far from the village where he grew up, The Little Band resolutely plays the card of adventure, ecology and escape. There is something about five club version Greta Thunberg in this fable at the height of children.

The fifth thief

It all starts with a big dip in a polluted river, that of little Aimé (formidable Paul Belhoste, 10 and a half years old at the time of filming). The college whipping boy, harassed at school and extorted by his peers, has just joined a group of friends, he who is so alone in ordinary times. It is through his voice that we follow the whole adventure.

This “little gang” decided to set fire to the chemical plant which has been ruining the region for years. In reality, if the young Aimé was chosen by this quartet of angry children, it was because they needed a fifth thief to tip the scales during the solemn votes in their cabin. The lie is at the heart of the story.

All this little world cheerfully cheats on the real reasons that bind to each other.

It’s fine to be called “the little band”. You still have to have team spirit. Each of the heroes wears a mask made with the means at hand. Straw, bark, leaves, feathers and a few strings are used to hide their faces as well as their motivations. The first emotions repressed for one, a father-son relationship hampered for the other, or the desire to punish a father-in-law lived like an ogre, each child clings to this crazy project as if his life in depended.

Salvadori meanwhile does not lose sight of the essential. He films childhood like a teeming island, a secret oasis that he suddenly finds, full of traps and pitfalls, alive, exotic, where the real treasure would ultimately be the friendship of friends first.

In his native Corsica, the landscapes parade, sunny, mysterious, of an insolent beauty, captured at a hundred miles an hour while the children run in the woods, their knees scraped, their arms full of bruises, their legs stuffed with scratches. , and shortness of breath. Laughter bursts out. A few adrenaline rushes give the thrill. We come out of this joyful show with a smile on our faces, a jubilant heart, thinking that there is nothing better than a group of friends for life…

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