Rebellion (L’Ordre et la Morale)
Unrelentingly tense, Rebellion (original title, L’Ordre et la Morale) portrays the sombre consequences of mixing politics with warfare. Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz (Gothika, La Haine, Babylon AD), this film tells the tale of a real-life hostage drama. It not only brings an intensity rarely found in a Hollywood blockbuster, but also wields immense power over the viewer’s emotions. The ability to control the feelings and sensations felt by those watching this film is to Kassovitz’s credit and demonstrates his skill as a director.
The story itself takes place after a group of thirty French gendarmes are held hostage by separatist rebels on France’s New Caledonia territory in the South Pacific. A negotiator by the name of Philippe Legorjus (played by Kassovitz himself) is called upon as the seventh member of a special GIGN-unit to neutralise the crisis. Landing on the Pacific island surrounded by dense jungle, the men appear a million miles away from Paris and civilisation. The stark contrast between the island’s beauty and the French army is well highlighted by Kassovitz’s direction.
Rebellion heats up with the capture of Philippe and his men by the rebels. The violence and anger towards the French that emanates from every pore of the rebels is so fierce that it sends the meaning of intensity to a new level. Philippe is eventually released, alone, to act as a go-between for the two sides. But he is all alone as arbiter in the middle of this hostile situation as it has coincided with a key electoral deadline – a time when no politician wants to play fair with a crisis. The lives of the hostage gendarmes are not poignant on the scale of things, and the result is devastating.
There are short, sharp injections of sarcasm within the dialogue – those paying attention to the subtitles will no doubt afford a laugh. However, the speech on the whole is very fast and tense, meaning reading speed needs to be turned right up for fear of missing vital details. Rebellion pays homage perhaps a little too closely to the actual events that occurred, sacrificing its entertainment factor. The final assault to free the hostages is fast and furious, filmed purely from the attacking French’s point of view. It is gruelling to watch, and there is no danger of the tension easing up until the credits roll.
Kassovitz has done the story justice with Rebellion’s impact and realistic approach. With a $20million budget, the film could have afforded to excel a little more with special effects, but Kassovitz’s unfussy approach really exhibits the actors’ (often touching) performances. Not for everyone, this film will have a specific audience, but for them it will hit all the right notes.
Rebellion is released nationwide on 19th April 2013.
Watch the trailer for Rebellion here: