Jean-Dujardin-The-ConnectionIt is rare to see a director with only one other feature film under his belt exercising such strict control over a movie, but every once in a while somebody manages to pull it off. Scorsese did it with Mean Streets. Spike Lee, with Do The Right Thing. And now, Cedric Jimenez has done so with The Connection.

The French counterpart and, answer to, the classic American film, The French Connection, Jimenez weaves together the story of Magistrate Pierre Michel (Jean Dujardin) who relentlessly tries to plug up the stream of heroin that is flooding Marseille streets and being exported over to America’s.

Dujardin’s portrayal of the obsessive lawmen hunting down gangsters is immersive and haunting. Pierre is a shoot first ask questions later kind of personality, (literally; he would often arrest suspects and then worry about finding a charge after). That kind of intensity was matched only by Dujardin’s dedication to the role. His plunge into the character was supplemented by Jimenez’s unusual decision to create 360 degree sets and only use motivated lighting. This means that all the sets were constructed as real buildings, rather than have an empty 4th wall, and an absence of cumbersome film lights that can take an actor out of the moment.

To contribute to the natural organic feeling, Jimenenez used mostly a shoulder mount camera that was almost constantly moving which, once paired with the rocking sound track, lent itself to the early work of Scorsese or Paul Thomas Anderson. It’s hip feeling was aided by the always-fun 70’s sideburns, almost as outlandish as the collars on their squeaky leather coats.

Between the elaborate production design and costumes, it becomes clear while the whole film seems to wear an outer shell of nostalgia. The Connection is a solid piece of work by a still novice director, and should be seen as the beginning to a promising career.