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Violent Days

Director: Lucile Chaufour

France| 2004. English subtitles. Black and white. Dolby digital stereo. 104 min.


Three rockabilly boys spend a night listening to music, playing cards, drinking and scuffling in a Parisian apartment, while a blonde girlfriend fusses around them and clears up their mess. The following morning, the hungover quartet pile into a battered jalopy, put a cassette in the tape deck and head to Le Harve, where there’s a rock ‘n’ roll gathering of bands and like minds: gangs out for bopping, booze and bother, where all the boys want to be Eddie Cochran and all the girls look like Jayne Mansfield. Tense, poetic and gorgeously shot in black and white verite style, Violent Days feels intriguingly out of time, displaying a number of generation-crossing influences, referencing Jean-Luc Godard’s notion of cool, Lindsay Anderson’s astute observations, and at other points bringing to mind American pioneers John Cassavetes, Shirley Clarke and Jim Jarmusch. Yet director Lucile Chaufour’s debut feature is also strikingly unique, an insight into a white, working class cultural clique that has few precedents in French cinema. The wonderful ’50s soundtrack trawls the vaults of Sun Records and beyond, dusting down numerous gems from the early days of rock.

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