Anyone expecting to see Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables" whether the novel, the several films in theatres and on TV or the recent hit musical on stage and in film will be disappointed even though there is a Hugo quote and it takes place in the Parisian suburb of Montfermeil, an important part of the book. Also, women play very minor roles and there is no Fantine or Cosette.
The main story is that of a policeman, Stephane (played by Damien Bonnard) who joins the Anti-Crime Squad in Montfermeil teaming with Gwada (Djebril Zonga) and Chris (Alexis Manenti) and he is introduced to the many different groups from an African crime boss called 'The Mayor' (Steve Tientcheu) to Zorro (Raymond Lopez) the leader of a group of gypsies with a traveling circus, Salah (Almamy Kanoute)restaurant owner and Pasteur Marcello Tunasi as the leader of a Muslim group.
Very much involved with the adults are a couple of gangs of kids surviving the best way they can. At first we see them in the opening sequence of the movie reveling in their support of the French World Cup team contrasting with the way they live every day. The main youngster is Issa Perica who gives a strong performance as Issa, the one who gets everything in motion and gets the film off its slow start. Another young actor, Al-Hassan Ly, as Buzz, is into drones and not only provides the director Ladj Ly and the director of photography Julien Poupard with some beautiful shots while ugliness is at the heart of the screenplay written by Ly, Giordano Gederlini and Alexis Manenti but he is pivotal to what happens to everyone.
"Les Miserables" is a good film but obviously the first film based on a shorter film that he made which may explain why there are so many, too many, things, subjects and ideas thrown into this one instead of using some of the topics in his next film.