Mary Poppins Returns
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All Critics (36)
| Top Critics (13)
| Fresh (29)
| Rotten (7)
This drama of how a "little monster" struggles to find a place within society has a few strong scenes, and a hint of potential stardom for Paradot, whose character Malony rages for humanity as well as himself.
A smartly written, evenly wrought drama ...
It's a preening piece of work, aiming to flatter and please, while masquerading as something hard-hitting and daring. And because of all that, it's a bore.
As a shaper of stories, Bercot is not yet as assured as those directors. But she knows how to elicit authentic performances, whether from veterans like Deneuve or a first-timer like Paradot. His Malony may not be likable, but he's altogether believable.
Standing Tall shows the misery and pain of youngsters in rebellion against the social construct that made them that way, as well as the frustration of the public servants who work overtime to give them hope.
The pleasure of Standing Tall lies in its intelligent fidelity to process, to the Sisyphean struggle that both Malony and his stubborn but tested protectors face.
Standing Tall makes up for its use of clichés by way of strong direction, well honed performances, and a sense of dramatic depth.
Standing Tall never even attempts a nuanced exploration of the difficulties of navigating life without a real parent and how it robs you of privileges that are for many children commonplace.
I didn't think I was absorbed in the story until I was choking back tears at the end.
Harrowing and hopeful but always humane, with no easy solutions.
As French-language films about efforts to rehabilitate violent yet hunky blonde juvenile delinquents go, Emmanuelle Bercot's muddled Standing Tall is at least less irritating and fetishistic than Xavier Dolan's Mommy.
Bercot's best irony is the film's fleet, incisive style - not docudrama but emotional precision in the composition, editing, and perfectly pitched humane performances (including Catherine Deneuve and Benoit Magimel at their compassionate best).
An idealistic but worthwhile piece about a juvenile delinquent growing up in the French justice system. Those who are interested in the issues of social justice will see past the romanticism of the story to many pertinent statements about what it takes to save a child like Malony. It justifies Deneuve's selection of the role of judge, and her performance lends the story much depth. Malony's mother teeters in drug-fuelled irresponsibility; the boy is a wildly dangerous driver of stolen cars; his anger, sexuality and violence are explosive. Repeatedly, he fails everyone. The film stresses the importance of love, especially maternal love. The judge gives him a long series of chances - to the point that you can think it really is going to be hopeless. The justice system is presented as caring. You see into the judge's long experience, how she makes her judgments, and her determination to help Malony and the many kids like him whom she sees. The other lead actors, the supporting cast and the finished product are all very fine too. Of course, only those on the inside can say how far all of this is an accurate snapshot of French juvenile justice, and how much it is making recommendations for reform. The film's sugary side will offend people and some in the audience were openly cynical; it also helps the character of Malony that his worst crimes against people (rather than property) are forgiven by the victims. Despite these cinematic devices though, which will send it to a wider audience than otherwise, the film is elevated by the performances to a determined statement about the need for properly funded, caring public interventions to support young parents and children at risk. Someone has to paint not only the faults, but also the possibilities and the vision.
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