Low budget leads to high believability

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Rebellion (15) Heart of Hawick

You don’t have to be reminded that politics is a dark art. Rebellion reinforces this truth in a story of kidnap and betrayal in a far-off colonial outpost.

In the summer of 1988 a group of Kanak dissidents in New Caledonia attack a police station and take hostages. They demand that the French government listen to their grievances and discuss independence.

These men are not monsters. They are desperate, untrained and politically naive. Naturally, in Paris, they are portrayed as jungle bunnies with a taste for human flesh, potentially murderous and definitely off limits.

The authorities dispatch a mini corps of counter terrorist police under the command of Philippe (writer/director Mathieu Kassovitz, right), a sensitive, intelligent man who believes that the only way of appeasing the kidnappers is to gain the trust of their leader, Alphonse.

Meanwhile, France is in the throws of a presidential election. This ruckus in New Wherever is taking up too much media space. It has to be sorted – quickly.

And so, a hardline army colonel is put in charge, undermining Philippe’s delicate diplomatic moves.

As a docudrama the film gains authenticity by the very fact of its poverty. Low budget thinking encourages innovation and so what appears untidy – handheld cameras, non-professional actors – is closer to real life than what you might expect from a Hollywood action flick.

Kassovitz made La Haine in 1995. Rebellion is less harrowing, lighter in shade and unaffected by the urban dread that cripples generations of North African immigrants.

Alphonse is an educated man. He believes in freedom, without conditions. Philippe’s sympathies lie in the middle ground where the union of minds is as precious as the concept of democracy.

If only...