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Standing Tall 

Wednesday, Apr 13 2016
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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. (Not that being less irritating and fetishistic than a Dolan film is a particularly high bar.) Malony (Rod Paradot) is the miscreant whose train-wreck of a mother (Sara Forestier) has long since abandoned him to the juvenile court system, where sympathetic judge Florence (Catherine Deneuve) and caseworker Yann (Benoît Magimel) struggle to get the pouty powder keg to stop blowing up. Why so much effort is put into Malony's case in particular is never clear, though the fact that he's white is observed by less coddled, non-white fellow juvie inmates.For a film written and directed by a woman — and who worked with so well with female-oriented themes in her previous film, On My Way — Standing Tall has an odd relationship with its female characters, particularly the pixie-like Tess (Diane Rouxel), whom Malony calls a slut and consequently rapes. But Tess keeps coming back for more, presented as a light to guide him out of the darkness rather than a motivaton-less doormat, and the way the film deals with her subsequent pregnancy is deplorable.But Paradot is nice to look at, which evidently counts for a lot.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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