Raindance Festival Dealer
French director Jean Luc Herbulot explores the criminal underworld of Paris in his first feature film Dealer, which received its UK premiere at this year’s Raindance Film Festival. The story follows Dan (Dan Bronchinson), a casual drug dealer, who dreams of moving to Australia to become a pastry chef. His plans are derailed when one of his clients offers him a one-time cocaine job, which goes spectacularly wrong and propels Dan into a race to save his own life and that of his daughter.
Simultaneously an homage and a modern update to Nicholas Refn’s 1996 Dutch classic Pusher, this film approaches the same subject matter with slick, corybantic and gritty style. From the outset, the fast-paced, poetic script injects new energy into an oft-covered genre, delving beneath the picturesque Paris we know, to uncover a more authentic, messy and at times plain gruesome perspective of the city.
Inspired by Bronchinson’s own life, Dealer is notable for the complexity of its central character – a man who is unapologetically immoral and who lives perpetually outside of society’s ethical rules. Bronchinson’s performance as Dan is superbly nuanced, somehow managing to engage his audience’s sympathies by becoming most likeable villain in a world devoid of heroes.
In many ways a classical tragedy, the driving energy of Dealer seems to be one man’s descent into despair. As an ostensibly simple plan spirals wildly out of control, one can’t help but sympathise with Dan’s character as he scrambles to keep his world from falling apart. However, Herbulot tempers this sympathy with the extreme violence and destruction that are a part of Dan’s everyday life – a reminder that he is certainly not a man deserving of much sympathy.
In contrast with the visceral rendering of Dan and his companions, the female roles – though excellently performed, remain rather flat, falling predictably into the mother or prostitute categories. While not entirely unexpected, particularly in a testosterone-heavy action flick, after the detailed authenticity of Dan’s character the two-dimensional realisations of his wife, girlfriend and daughter are noticeably lacking.
Regardless, Huberlot’s first foray into feature films is undeniably impressive, with expertly managed tension paired with sophisticated storytelling.
Dealer is released nationwide on 26th September 2014.
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Watch the trailer for Dealer here: