Carbone [2017]

Opening with the murder of the main character, Carbone lets us know it’s not fucking around. This is a decent French crime thriller drawing inspiration from the incredible events surrounding the “Fraud of the Century”. Between 2008 and 2009, 1.6 billion euros were swindled in a huge carbon quota market scam. The real story is actually more surprising than what we’re going to see here. It involves a French-Israeli gang led by a former math teacher and drug dealer. Olivier Marchal (Bronx, La French) opted for a more familiar character of an entrepreneur in trouble doing everything he can to keep the money flowing. You will be able to empathize with him and see what would happen if you decided to venture on the other side of the law. Next thing you know and you’ve got neck tattoos and screaming Madball’s Down by Law.

Carbone features sleek cinematography with usually great camerawork. Marchal knows how to set up the scene and make the most out of vibrant locations like Marseille and Paris. From nightclubs and seedy cafes to restaurants, everything looked really stylish and visually appealing. The plot is, however, a different story. It’s riddled with cliches, especially if you’re familiar with this type of movie. Editing was also wobbly, having trouble relaying the passage of time. Still, there’s enough meat here to keep you engaged. The cast was good and believable with Benoît Magimel leading the pack and Gérard Depardieu giving it street cred. It’s also always fun to watch the cultural differences and just how smooth the French are. Plus you will hear a lot of cool proverbs you can quote at appropriate times to sound wise.

Antoine Roca is in a lot of trouble. Laurent Melki, his friend and accountant just told him that his company has to declare bankruptcy. He also briefly mentions how his Carbon Tax finally came through and he’s eligible for a small refund. That’s, however, the last thing Antoine is thinking about. He’s also having problems at home, with his beautiful wife and her domineering father. Drowning his sorrow in whiskey and clouds of cigarette smoke, he’s falling to the bottom fast. One day he remembers that Carbon Tax refund and upon further research realizes that he actually might make more money using it. This will start a chain of events that will change his life forever.

Marchal exposes the world of finance for what it really is, a rich man’s playground where different rules apply. He blurs the line between legal, illegal, right, and wrong and guides us into the world of big money and shady deals. The whole reminded me of the cryptocurrency craze from a couple of years ago and a number of ICO’s that went on in a similar fashion. And while there are some Wolf of Wall Street vibes here, Carbone remains firmly focused on characters and criminal background all the while maintaining this easygoing atmosphere.

When I started watching this movie, I simply couldn’t relate to the main characters. I found them irritating, privileged, and profoundly unlikable. I especially remember that scene when one of the workers is getting a fishing rod as a retirement present. Antoine is looking from his office like a god at this nativity scene thinking something along the lines you don’t know my burden. Fuck your burden man! If you shared the ownership of the company you wouldn’t be in this situation. And I better stop myself before seizing the means of production. The more the story progressed, the more I felt for Antoine. Maybe the reason why I didn’t like him was that he reminded me of someone. Me from younger days, to be precise.

Director: Olivier Marchal

Writers: Emmanuel Naccache, Olivier Marchal, Ali Hajdi

Cast: Benoît Magimel, Gringe, Idir Chender, Laura Smet, Michaël Youn, Gérard Depardieu, Moussa Maaskri, Carole Brana

Fun Facts: Olivier Marchal was then to play the police officer Moser.


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