Hochelaga (2000)

(In French, On DVD, December 2001) The biker-gang problem has made quite a few headlines in Quebec during the past few years, and so it’s not a surprise to see an original home-grown thriller that deals with the issue. Here, a young man is gradually brought in a gang, where he’ll eventually discover a deadly secret… It’s really a portrait of how someone from a disadvantaged environment can see crime as an alternative option, and as such is far more honest than dozens of similar films. The raw, naturalistic technique of the film thus works to its advantage. It’s a bit dull at first, but it sharply improves in the second half. Ironically enough, when I tried to find parallels in foreign cinema with Hochelaga, I could only think of Hong Kong Triad films in which similar protagonists are gradually seduced in the power of criminal gangs. In any case, the result is a powerful film, maybe the best French-Canadian film I can recall recently. Definitely worth a look if you can find it. The DVD contains a few serviceable extras such as interviews and an English-language track.

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