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By Bonnie Anderson and Dan Webster
Completely filmed in 35mm, “The Connection” is the 2015 flip side of that good 1971 suspense thriller, “The French Connection” starring Gene Hackman as New York Detective “Popeye” Doyle.
“The Connection” is the real-life story of the work of a tenacious French magistrate aka “cop” (Pierre Michel played by Oscar winner Jean Dujardin). His adversary is drug kingpin, Gaëtan Zampa (Gilles Lellouche), known as “Tany,”
“The Connection” provides good detail, excellent acting and suspense from the French point of view about the fight to bring down a huge drug operation.
Marseille, where “The Connection” is filmed, is the second largest city in France. The city was the center of drug trafficking in the mid-70s. Ironically, Marseille was the most important trade port for the French Empire, however, the film depicts a contemporary kind of trade that negatively infected the populations of Europe and North America with illegals drugs.
After the film, we found ourselves asking, “What made Magistrate Michel do what he did, which was a difficult and dangerous job? What made him persevere? Why did he risk his life and the safety of his family to bring down the drug cartel? What drove him?”
Although the film prods the audience to swim on the good vs. evil surface and be contentedly thrilled by the suspense offered up by the film, thoughtful movie goers may find themselves going deeper into the morality of the key characters. After all, the bad guy exhibits attractive human characteristics too, although they are often overshadowed by his treatment of “underlings” and common folk.
As always, often it is contemplative thought, even at the movies, that provides us the opportunity to see God revealed to us. There are moral similarities in the two main characters of this film. But what are the important key moral characteristics that separate them? That’s where we can see the difference between the “resume virtues and the eulogy virtues. The eulogy virtues are the ones that get talked about at your funeral, the ones that exist at the core of your being, whether you are kind, brave, honest or faithful; what kind of relationships you formed.”
So when you see this film, and we hope that you do, you will likely be entertained (If you don’t parle français, the subtitles are clear and easy to read. In fact, the film is engaging, so by the end of the first 15 minutes you forget you are reading) and please give some thought to the eulogy virtues, even the bad guy has them, but, as expected, the good guy wins the virtue tally.
 Brooks, David, The Road to Character, Random House, NY, 2015. p.xi.
Bonnie Anderson is a very active lay leader in her parish, diocese and in the wider Episcopal Church. She is an experienced community organizer and lives in suburban Detroit. Dan Webster is an Episcopal priest in Baltimore, Maryland and a former broadcast news executive. But don’t expect only east coast urban perspectives here. As it turns out, we both grew up in Southern California. They blog about films and faith at Faith Reels.