Film Review: Gang Story

Olivier Marchal’s film features all the familiar gangster tropes. Nevertheless, Gang Story is well produced, and is engaging throughout.

Coming from a poor Gypsy background, Momon Vidal became a big player in organised crime. Enjoying spending time with his family later in life, Vidal’s peaceful existence is interupted by the return of his oldest friend, Serge Suttel. Looking back on their past exploits, Vidal must decide how best to help his old friend…

Based on the memoirs of Edmond Vidal, Gang Story plays out well. There are few real surprises as the film unfolds, but some well-crafted storytelling retains the viewer’s attention. Gang Story features a flashback format, which informs the contemporary narrative.

Themes of loyalty and criminality reign, as would be expected from a gangster film. An interesting facet of Gang Story is the way it simultaneously glamorises gang culture and makes it look unaapealing. The profits of this type of lifestyle are all too apparent through the lavish houses and expensive cars. Nevertheless, the danger is also perpetual, with the fatalities contrasting well with any riches gained.

Cinematography in Gang Story is good, particularly in the flashback sequences. The cinematography combines well with the art direction and costuming, giving these scenes an authentically 1970s appearance. The film is violent throughout its duration. Marchal does not hold back from depicting some very brutal crimes.

Gérard Lanvin offers a decent peroformance as Momon Vidal. The strength lies in his stoicism, rather than delivery of dialogue. Tchéky Karyo is also good as Serge Suttel. The contrast between these two characters appears steadily but naturally as the film progresses. Elsewhere, Valeria Cavalli is well cast as Janou Vidal, and Patrick Catalifo makes a good police detective.

Gang Story is like many others, even though it is inspired by real events. Marchal’s fine direction makes the film a lot more capitavating than it could have been.