Les Misérables at HOME

Tom Grieve, Cinema Editor

Les Misérables at HOME Manchester, Manchester 4 September — 1 October 2020 Entrance is free — Visit now

Ladj Ly borrows a title from Victor Hugo for his debut feature film. Set in Montfermeil, the same tough Paris suburb in which Hugo wrote his novel, Les Misérables sees the writer-director concoct a tale of police brutality, gangland politics and racial tension in the raucous aftermath of France’s 2018 World Cup win.

The fizzy thriller follows transfer-cop Stéphane Ruiz (Damien Bonnard) on his first day with the cowboy-ish street crime unit, where he is teamed with a black officer named Gwada (Djibril Zonga), both led by white commander Chris (Alexis Manenti). Within minutes Chris has sexually harassed a 15-year-old girl and smashed the phone of a friend who tries to film him. The trio continue to work their way through the neighborhood as it becomes clear that the unit’s modus operandi is abuse, violence and a series of quid pro quo agreements.

Training Day via La Haine would be a good comparison.

Ly’s inciting incident is the unlikely theft of a lion cub by troubled teen Issa (Issa Perica). Stolen from a travelling zoo, the theft of the cub threatens to inflame community tensions and spark violence in the streets. Issa gives the game away with an ill-advised Instagram post, but the real threat of civil unrest is generated when the police officers botch his apprehension — with a camera watching.

Les Misérables has sparked some generous comparisons to Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. In fact, Training Day via La Haine would be a good comparison as Ly sidesteps some of the thornier discussions surrounding law enforcement at the moment by using the untainted rookie Stéphane as an audience surrogate. In choosing to lean into the thriller elements of the plot, what Ly loses in nuance, he gains in pure exhilaration.

Les Misérables at HOME Manchester, Manchester 4 September — 1 October 2020 Entrance is free Visit now

What's on at HOME Manchester

Where to go near Les Misérables at HOME

Indian Tiffin Room, Manchester

Indian Tiffin Room is a restaurant specialising in Indian street food, with branches in Cheadle and Manchester. This is the information for the Manchester venue.

The Ritz Manchester live music venue
Music venue
The Ritz

The Ritz was originally a dance hall, built in 1928, has hosted The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and The Smiths and is still going strong as a gig venue now.

Event venue

Homeground is HOME’s brand new outdoor venue, providing an open-air space for theatre, food, film, music, comedy and more.

Café or Coffee Shop
Burgess Cafe Bar

Small but perfectly-formed café – which also serves as the in-house bookstore, stocking all manner of Burgess-related works, along with recordings of his music. It’s a welcoming space, with huge glass windows making for a bright, welcoming atmosphere.

Rain Bar pub in Manchester
City Centre
Bar or Pub
Rain Bar

This huge three-floor pub, formerly a Victorian warehouse, then an umbrella factory (hence the name), has one of the city centre’s largest beer gardens. The two-tier terrace overlooks the Rochdale canal and what used to be the back of the Hacienda, providing an unusual, historic view of the city.

Bar or Pub
The Briton’s Protection

Standing on the corner of a junction opposite The Bridgewater Hall, The Briton’s Protection is Manchester’s oldest pub. It has occupied the same spot since 1795, going under the equally patriotic name The Ancient Britain.

What's on: Cinema

CinemaCheetham Hill
Jewish Culture Club

Meet new people, explore contemporary cultural works and learn about Jewish culture with Jewish Culture Club at Manchester Jewish Museum.

free entry

Culture Guides

Theatre in Manchester and the North
Theatre in Manchester and the North

Affecting contemporary performances and fresh, relevant takes on enduring classics, we pick out shows that help us scrutinise the world we live in.

Festival-goers at Green Island
Music in Manchester and the North

Gazing longingly towards the good times that will accompany the surely imminent sun, we take a look at the best music festivals coming up in Manchester and Salford.