The Little Band **
by Pierre Salvadori
French film, 1 h 48
At 12, Cat and Fouad are already painfully aware of inertia in the face of environmental threats. Near their college in the heart of Corsica, the Chambon factory pollutes the river with impunity. To preserve jobs, local authorities turn a blind eye to the fish that die and put up with the impossibility of bathing. Friend of Sami who yearns for Cat, Antoine comes up with a plan to bring them closer: set fire to the factory together. Startled at first by their own audacity, the four members of this small troop take action with the means at hand and the utmost seriousness.
An unexpected power
On D-Day, a Sunday, the program gets out of hand due to the presence of the boss in the premises. In a panic, the gang kidnaps him. What to do with him? How to decide when all the votes end in a sterile result of two against two? Recruit a fifth element without bias between the two subgroups, ideally without friends. All eyes converge on Aimé, the establishment’s eternal whipping boy. Delighted to have been chosen, he does not take long to worry about a trap that would be set for him, before understanding his power as an absolute majority maker.
Pierre Salvadori’s new comedy can be seen by children from the age of its protagonists, but it has nothing of a film reserved for them. No cuteness, a fortiori no blandness or sentimentality. La Petite Bande is more like a fable with cruel accents. It takes the talent of Laurent Capelluto in the role of the boss to defuse the discomfort that the violence committed against him could cause.
Determined to make a better world emerge by all means, the children gradually reveal other motivations, specific to each one, to embark on the adventure. The sharp dialogues are served by young performers who make this heterogeneous clan irresistible. Clear-sighted, Aimé’s voice-over recounting all these adventures has some surprises in store.
Under a summer sun, Pierre Salvadori films a nature as generous as it is threatened and a tumultuous river which invites you to swim, even though it is forbidden. His film manages to maintain with the same ease the registers of burlesque and action, the revolts of the young generation and touching portraits of kids struggling with problems bigger than themselves.