sat 30/05/2020

Earth and Blood, Netflix review - tense and broody thriller ultimately falls short | reviews, news & interviews

Earth and Blood, Netflix review - tense and broody thriller ultimately falls short

Earth and Blood, Netflix review - tense and broody thriller ultimately falls short

Julian Leclerc's gangster drama packs a punch but lacks depth

Sami Bouajila as the strong and silent Saïd

There are quite a few good things to be said for Julien Leclerc’s Earth and Blood.

There are quite a few good things to be said for Julien Leclerc’s Earth and Blood. It’s a terse and uncluttered thriller which makes full use of its main location, a battered old sawmill in the midst of a dank expanse of forest, and Leclerc has rustled up a thoroughly unpleasant bunch of gangsters led by the intimidating Adama (Ériq Ebouaney). Best of all is his leading man Saïd, played as the acme of strong and silent by Sami Bouajila, a Leclerc regular who also appeared in the director’s recent pieces The Crew and The Bouncer.

In fact Leclerc’s opening scene might be a little too good, since the rest of the movie has a hard time matching it. In pouring rain, a group of Afro-French guys wait tensely in a van outside a police station. They’re about to make a daring raid to seize eight kilos of cocaine locked up inside (pictured below), and this ticks along according to plan until a pair of gang members get embroiled in a fatal shoot-out.

Honour being predictably lacking among these thieves, one of the survivors, Medhi (Redouanne Harjane) tries to secrete the drugs for his own ends. His young brother Yanis (Samy Seghir) is working at Saïd’s sawmill as part of his post-jail rehab, and Medhi has the bright idea of forcing him to hide the contraband there.The film sustains an atmosphere of menace throughout, with most of the scenes shot in a murky sub-daylight which oozes foreboding. It’s enhanced by our knowledge that Saïd is seriously ill and is making plans to ensure that his family and friends are looked after when he’s gone. He becomes the existential hero making a last stand against Adama and his crew of scumbags.

Yet though there’s something pleasing about the story’s arrow-like directness as it speeds to what is probably its inevitable conclusion, you can’t help feeling Leclerc and co-writers Jérémie Guez and Matthieu Serveau have stripped it a little too bare. There’s too much left unsaid about Said’s back story, his innate penchant for violence and whatever happened to leave him living with his almost-deaf daughter Sarah (Sofia Lesaffre), though a sequence where she’s under threat and only able to sense the peril through vibrations and facial expressions is memorable. As for the villains, they’re revealed as sorely one-dimensional, and not very clever, behind their scowling expressions and AK-47s, with Adama being little more than a walking billboard with “Baddie” painted on it. But hey, there are far worse movies to be locked down with.

Most of the scenes are shot in a murky sub-daylight which oozes foreboding

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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