The Squale

Antagonism between blacks and Arabs in a suburban Paris housing project provides the backdrop for this 2000 melodrama about a gangly, foul-mouthed teen (the appealing Esse Lawson) who's convinced that she was fathered by a neighborhood crime icon of an earlier generation. She's fallen for a brutish, charismatic gang leader—they're soul mates, like Bonnie and Clyde, she points out—yet their relationship is tested by his infidelities, her mother's weary discouragement, betrayals in the gang, and the heroine's search for her father. Fabrice Genestal, making his feature debut, portrays these hard-bitten, territorial kids with unflinching realism, and the hip-hop score by Cut Killer stokes the sense of life run amok. With Tony Mpoudja. 100 min.

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