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film review

The Connection is based on a true story of a crusading magistrate, Pierre Michel, played by Jean Dujardin.Everett Collection

William Friedkin's celebrated 1971 film The French Connection created a new template for the urban cop movie, with its use of hand-held camera work, naturalistic dialogue and anti-hero detective Jimmy (Popeye) Doyle.

French director Cédric Jimenez insists that his stylish, sprawling, multiyear crime drama, The Connection (La French in French), is not a Gallic twist on The French Connection, but it sort of it is.

The movie, which recounts the Marseille side of the seventies' transatlantic heroin trade, replicates the fatalism, rhythms and soundtrack of the New York crime movies of the era, although the mean streets tend to be palm-lined boulevards.

The difference is that the moral lines are much clearer here: This true story of crusading magistrate, Pierre Michel (The Artist's ultrahandsome Jean Dujardin), and his ruthless antagonist, drug kingpin and fellow dedicated family man, Gaëtan (Tany) Zampa, is a byzantine, if ultimately conventional, heroic tale that feels like a guided tour down a familiar alley.