Hamé and Ekoué (aka Mohamed Bourokba and Ekoué Labitey), abrasive versifiers of the excellent hip-hop group La Rumeur, have been investing in cinema for more than ten years under the banner of the same collective, and deliver, six years after Les Derniers Parisiens (2017), their second feature film. Rue des Dames continues on the same choral momentum, mobilizing a gallery of street characters, in the last remains of a working-class Paris which still resists gentrification.
Mia (Garance Marillier), a young manicurist in dire need, sets up an escort business by directly recruiting the clients of the salon that employs her. She then introduces them to rich footballers, through the accomplice of a taxi driver (Bakary Keita). An undercover police officer (Sandor Funtek) smells the scheme and takes a little too much interest in Mila, while her boyfriend Nabil (Brahim Bettayeb) struggles to overcome his parole.
Porous marginality with the suburbs
Chronicle of underworld resourcefulness backed by the logic of survival, the film also aims to be the topography of a floating territory, on the border of the 17th and 18th arrondissements, in the Pigalle-La Chapelle axis, that of an already marginality porous with the suburbs. However, Hamé and Ekoué leave this issue of location at the stage of the petition of principle. The direction, opting for the handheld camera and very tight frames on the faces, forgets the space in favor of dialogue alone, throughout scenes alternating heated altercations, wild negotiations and rough tête-à-tête.
This verbalization of conflicts only opens up a restricted field for them, and the entire environment in which the characters live remains in the dark. The realism targeted here does not differ much from the well-known mythologies of the asphalt: big-hearted swindlers, sacrificial little crooks, cops inevitably on the move, wounded masculinities turning into a fight. For the street to tell its story, it still needs to find its staging.