Standing Tall (La Tête Haute)2016
Standing Tall (La Tête Haute) (2016)
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Critic Reviews for Standing Tall (La Tête Haute)
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.
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.
Audience Reviews for Standing Tall (La Tête Haute)
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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