The World Is Yours (Le monde est à toi)
France (2018) Dir. Romain Gavras
Crime doesn’t pay yet people still think they can prove this adage wrong – or die trying. One man hopes to walk away from this dangerous world but there are many things preventing him from doing so – including his own mother!
That man is Farès (Karim Leklou), a small time criminal tired with being a lackey to eccentric gang boss Poutin (Sofian Khammes) and has plans to move on and start a new life selling Mr. Freeze ice pops in North Africa. Having secured the franchise, Farès just needs the capital to set the business up but to his horror, his gregarious mother Danny (Isabelle Adjani) has gambles hid savings away.
With few alternatives of getting the money at such short notice, Farès reluctantly agrees to do one last job for Poutin, picking up a consignment of drugs in Spain from a dealer known as The Scotsman (Sam Spruell). Along with aged criminal Henri (Vincent Cassel), bad girl Lamya (Oulaya Amamara) and two wannabes both named Mohammed (Mounir Amamra and Mahamadou Sangaré), Farès arrives in Spain but his naivety and lack of authority means it all goes pear shaped rather quickly.
For his follow up to his nihilistic debut Our Day Will Come, Romain Gavras opts for a less desperate tone that recalls the cheeky crime capers of Guy Ritchie with the pop culture referencing indulgence of Tarantino. The title The World Is Yours sounds like a thematic continuation from Gavras’ previous film but is vastly different, save for sharing the lead actor in Vincent Cassel, though here he is in the supporting role.
Gavras made his name as a music video director and this reveals itself rather early in the film with the slow motion hip-hop swagger some of the characters tend to be posed in, Poutin in particular, and the neon colours that dominate most scenes. His father is Costa-Gavras, known for his catalogue politically themed films but this doesn’t seem to have rubbed off on his son.
However, one thing noticeable about this film is the cast being comprised predominantly of ethnic characters, the emphasis being on Arab and African origins. Whilst Henri and The Scotsman are obvious exceptions, Danny is half-Algerian and always bedecks herself in the flamboyant attire of this culture as if she was waltzing around Dubai’s equivalent of Beverly Hills, yet surprisingly doesn’t feel racist or offensive.
Of course, this is part of the ruse as Danny is every bit the criminal he son is and knows all the tricks of the trade, demonstrated by an audacious group shoplifting spree with Lamya that she drags Farès into to facilitate her escape. Unfortunately for Farès, his mother is capricious and unreliable, gambling away all of his money (but not her own, natch) and thinking nothing of it.
The truth is Farès has no real backbone and is easily pressured into doing what others want not what he wants – Poutin, Lamya, Danny, and eventually The Scotsman, all talk circles around Farès and have him right where they want him. Farès has a crush on Lamya but she isn’t interested, only accepting the Spain gig as a freebie holiday but soon shows her true colours a she tried to make off with the money for the drugs.
Negotiations with The Scotsman don’t go so well either (as far as I could tell – their every exchange was in English with no subtitles it was hard to discern the dialogue due to the thick accents of both), with him taking the money and not returning with the drugs. This sets off a battle of wits between the witless in getting the money back, but as ever disaster is always one step away for Farès.
Henri comes up with the only solution to avoid Farès being turned into dog food for Poutin’s pets and calls Danny for help. On the surface there is a no doubt a rip roaring gag to be made from a criminal needing his overbearing mother’s help, but just like the Sly Stallone misfire Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot! this too turns out to be a bad idea. Danny’s first idea to steal the money fails so she improvises and kidnaps The Scotsman’s morose daughter Brittany (Gabby Rose).
It feels as though Gavras was looking to make a farcical crime caper out of this tale and indeed the elements are all there but his ability to make the best use of them all falls short of the task. Too many characters are brought in to assist Farès in getting back at the Scotsman and his army of bald headed, tattooed, beer bellied football thugs – one has a villa of immigrant staff he his hiding for smugglers who he treats like an old time slave master but this never goes anywhere as a topical issue ripe to be explored.
Somehow the Illuminati are involved too but don’t ask me how, they are only obliquely referenced here and there for the sake of a mention near the end but then again, this is a film that dispenses with rhyme or reason in explaining the motives the character beyond Farès, they just do what they do. The only character we come to care about is young Brittany, with Farès coming second due to his run of bad luck but that is partly his fault.
With two top names in Vincent Cassel (wonderfully laconic) and the apparently ageless Isabelle Adjani (hamming it up big time to great effect), you’d expect this to carry some weight but instead is a stylishly presented slice of bubblegum fun. Karim Leklou does enough to hold things together as Farès but owes a debt to Oulaya Amamara as Lamya for providing the youthful edge.
The World Is Yours is a relatively easy watch if you don’t mind not knowing who half the characters are and can tolerate the excitable pop video approach to the aesthetic. It has its moments but stays firmly in the style over substance category.