Films involving drug dealers and the world they live in have been made oodles of times. French director Jean Luc Herbulot brings to the big screen his own version of this story. The result is 75 minutes of frenetic energy.
Dan (Dan Bronchinson) is a drug dealer working in Paris. His ex (Fatima Adoum – Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Irreversible) is bugging him about child support and in the midst of their umpteenth fight about the same thing he comes up with the idea of moving to Australia with his 6-year-old daughter, Lena (Maia Bonami).
It looks like he might come up with money he needs to make the move when his longest and most loyal customer, Simon (Didier Mérigou), offers him a lot of money to get him a kilo of cocaine. It is Fashion Week and he is desperate. The only catch is that he needs it by midnight giving Dan only three hours to get the large amount. Dan has given up dealing cocaine, but the lure of making a profit of $40,000 to $50,000 for three hours work is too great. With just this job he will have enough money to make his dreamed about move to Australia.
When he tells his partner Salem (Salem Kali) about his decision he is not sure, but again because of the potential profit he goes along with it. Dan goes to see his supplier, Delo (Bruno Henry). After some negotiating Dan gets Delo to agree to the deal and tells him he will have his agreed upon price of $35,000 for the kilogram by 4 pm.
Once they have the cocaine Dan decides to leave it at Chris’s. Chris (Elsa Madeleine) is a prostitute he has been living with for three years. Dan does not want to risk carrying the drugs around with him in fear that the cops will stop him and find it. A little while later exactly what he thought might happen does. Three plainclothes detectives stop Dan. He is carrying ecstasy and it looks like he might get arrested. He manages to get away and vomit up the drug.
Dan then goes back to Chris’s place and the cocaine is gone. She claims to not know anything about it. The only person who was there was a client named Franck (Franck Boss). Dan gets his address and makes a call to Simon that he cannot get his stuff to him before 4 pm. After holding he and his family hostage and beating Franck a little finally Dan gets him to say that he went back to Chris’s to get his wallet and there was another man there – an Arab.
What should have been a simple job that reaped a big reward has become a big mess. It is going to turn into the craziest 24 hours in Dan’s life where his survival skills are going to be put to the test.
If you sit there watching Dealer thinking it has an incredible air of realism about it then that is because the entire thing is based upon the life of lead actor, Dan Bronchinson. The despair and desperation he is feeling is palpable and etched on his face. He never gives up no matter what he is up against and how impossible it seems. After watching the film you will be exhausted and feel like you have gone through the wringer just like Dan. It is like you ran through the city of Paris looking for the kilo of cocaine or $75,000. All of your senses will be bombarded including smell because director Huberlot has managed to make a film that feels (in every sense of the word) real. When Dan runs through the streets of Paris trying to elude the cops you’ll be so caught up in it that you’ll smell the garbage in the alleys he is passing through. The way the director has edited and filmed Dealer in a frenetic and choppy kind of way adds sucks you right in. The constant movement and booming music bring about plenty of energy. The film is so involving that you’ll feel you experienced everything right alongside of the characters.
We all just allow days to slip through our fingers. It is a film like this that helps to remind us of what can happen in a mere 24 hours. We see how one thing can change the course of our lives.
It is not like there is really anything new to the story behind Dealer; it is really the way it is presented that makes it original. Huberlot is definitely a director with plenty of potential and I hope continues making films.