Reviewing a necessary miniseries on Disney+

memories of murder

Be it Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, French productions on SVOD platforms often struggle to break free from the shackles of picky French television. For that reason, we could be both surprised and concerned when Disney+ invests a mini-series about the racist murder of Malik Oussekinea student of Algerian origin who was beaten to death by police as he quietly returned home.

If this tragic event upset Mitterrand’s France, we got used to the cowardly, spectacular and tearful fictions about these cases that have become national symbols, whether on TF1, M6 or France Télévisions. We wonder why Oussekine did not follow this logical path, unless it was unfortunately more topical than ever due to the sensitivity of its subject.

A drama that is still relevant

In any case, this supposed reticence of the passage of the creation of Antoine Chevrollier (director of several episodes of legend office and from Black Baron) on Mickey’s side, because his ambition has increased tenfold. Aside from the undeniable quality of its reconstruction (supported by skillful photography, all in pastels and diffused lighting), Oussekine there’s something almost fluffy about it, like the somewhat hazy memory of a time fantasized by both the viewer and its protagonist, convinced of the equal opportunities that an inclusive nation promises.

Back from a jazz concert to which young Malik (Sayyid El Alami) goes with a smile from ear to ear, the soft cloud suddenly turns to fog. That’s the big ideaOussekine : does not immediately show us the tragic death of MalikHe was followed on several streets by police acrobats. The connection is made through his brothers Mohamed and Benamar (Tewfik Jallab and Malek Lamraoui) and his sisters Sarah and Fatna (Mouna Soualem and Naidra Ayadi), who understand something is wrong the next morning.

Oussekine: photoHiam Abbass, absolutely perfect as an idle mother

Intimate and collective trauma

Through this off-screen tetanization, the series creates a void: that of the unbearable expectation of definite answers. The death is hardly confirmed that it is already necessary to foresee the management of the media and the coming extent of this injustice. Chevrollier and his screenwriters have the intelligence to focus their first episode solely on that hellish day when the Oussekine siblings will be separated and sent to every corner of Paris before coming together in one final, heartbreaking take.

In this way, the perspective of the production carefully avoids merely translating a national drama and its political processing. Of course, the series underlines its necessity, especially through the support of students, but never forgets its obscene dimension, up to the calculated “gesture” of a president who has come to offer his condolences by invading the living space of this family, from which one of the sons was torn out.

Oussekine: photoA plan that hits the heart

So there is a wonderful richness in the four episodes ofOussekine, whose feigned sobriety could be reduced to transcribing the various events of a case spread over four years. On the other hand, The camera never forgets the pain of this familyserving as a fulcrum through a cognition that combines its subjectivity with accuracy and modesty.

In certain settings, the series finds its best moments when those mournful looks are overcome by the horrors of institutionalized racism. In particular, think of this terrifying call to a phone booth, which leads to the discovery of a newspaper kiosk displaying the defamatory letter from minute.

Oussekine: photofuneral procession

police killers

Malik’s relatives never wanted this affair to receive such a level of media coverage, but the simple duty of justice finds itself reluctantly enmeshed in a deep questioning of France’s moral identity. But worst of all, this dizzying dynamic is contrasted by the overall structure of the miniseries, which continues to model around that of its first installment. Everything is waiting and standing still, because behind the scenes of a government that is doing everything to thwart the courts.

Oussekine So a series of throwbacks and flashbacks works pretty well, also in terms of the reconstruction of Malik’s murder. One could blame the series for the slightly fetid tension it tries to mold around its monstrosity, but by distilling time in this way it makes this clash a sort of ghost that spills in and out of the episodes. to better reflect its dire timeliness.

Oussekine: photoWe before the series

Playing off dissatisfaction with his conclusion, Antoine Chevrollier throws us back at the way in which the Oussekine case serves more than ever as jurisprudence regarding the treatment of police violence, while the deaths of Rémi Fraisse and ‘Adama Traoré resonate indirectly in his pictures, which reflect the year 1986. The result is a series that channels his anger and despair, as does its brilliantly embodied characters.

It’s also worth highlighting the prestige of a five-star cast, from Kad Merad to Olivier Gourmet via Hiam Abbass, whose performances highlight a demanding staging, especially in a final rehearsal episode that avoids the many pitfalls of this nature. Up to the home stretch, the Disney + mini-series is exemplary and finds the right balance between the duty to remember and the intimate story without ever being intrusive. Paradoxically, it manages to keep this distanceOussekine conjures up a France of systematic hypocrisy where the notions of “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” have been meaningless for too long.

Oussekine is fully available on Disney+ since May 11, 2022

Oussekine: French poster

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