Boulogne-sur-mer is not exactly the sleepy suburb you would believe it to be. At least not in director Alan Mauduit’s (Vilaine) at times hysterical Rebelles. Between the violence, drug dealings, gangsters, and severed penises (I’ll explain later) there is nothing idyllic about this place.
After another failed relationship, former beauty queen Sandra (Cecile de France – Hereafter) has to return to her small town of Boulogne-sur-mer with her tail between her legs. Even worse, she has to, because she has no money, move in with her mother in the trailer park and take a job at a fish canning factory.
Things go from bad to worse when while working an extra shift the disgusting supervisor makes unwanted advances and when she spurns him things escalate. It gets physical and he is about to rape Sandra when she kicks a locker door and accidentally slices off his penis.
The noise attracts the attention of two of her co-workers, Nadine (Yolande Moreau – Amelie, Seraphine) and Marilyn (Audrey Lamy – Tout Ce Qui Brille). Once the three realize that he has a bag full of money things change. They decide to hold off calling an ambulance and during that time he dies. What to do?
They decide to keep quiet, dispose of his body and keep the money. This unusual trio is thrown together trying to stay ahead of the drug dealer (Simon Abkarian – Casino Royale, Rendition) who owes the money to another bigger drug dealer.
I found myself alternating by laughing/being highly entertained to being tense due to the violence. Director Mauduit successfully walks that cinematic tightrope. The result is an excellent black comedy. Of the type which could only be produced in France. The French just have a way of doing things which lends itself to this type of film. They manage the darkness so well. Only the French could make me laugh about the canning of a human.
Another element of the laughs is these three unlikely women being thrown together – the former beauty queen, the punk and the sad clown. The three main actresses are also a marvel. Perfect in and for their characters. All demonstrate great comedic timing as well as lending to the thriller aspect of the film.