The Godmother: "An offer you shouldn't refuse"
Unlike her counterpart, Don Corleone, in The Godfather, the Godmother, Patience Portefeux, becomes a criminal mastermind through chance and circumstance rather than a connection to the world of organised crime.
Patience works as a French-Arab translator for the French police. The police are working to capture a group of drug smugglers and Patience is the person on whom they rely to translate the phone-tapped conversations about the smuggler’s movements and shipments.
On the home front, Patience is struggling to pay her rent, pay for her mother’s exclusive and expensive aged-care home and accommodate all the other needs that come with living a purposeful life. That is, until she hears a conversation between a courier for the smugglers and his mother.
Official Trailer The Godmother (aka Mama Weed, La Daronne)
Using her insider knowledge of the drug shipments and the fact that she understands Arabic while the police don’t, Patience develops a network of drug distribution that culminates in her emergence as a drug trafficker and a powerful drug lord.
Oh, yes, coincidental. Maybe. It’s a clever notion to kickstart Patience’s life as a crime boss. Crime boss may be too bold a description of her activities because the mother in Godmother is more maternal than gangster inspired. She brings a sense of genuine care to her illegal activities. She is working to keep her mother in high-end aged care and the smuggler’s mother and son team out of prison.
With all the surveillance cameras in public places that are part of our everyday lives, Patience must work hard to avoid being recognised by her police colleagues. Her camouflage includes a collection of beautiful hijabs, Hermès of course, and the mandatory dark glasses that camouflage her appearance. It all works until her boss begins to put together clues that hint at Patience’s connection with the drug trade.
It becomes a comedy of errors based on a clichéd cat and mouse game between Patience Portefeux and her boss, Philippe. You have to stretch your sense of incredulity that the police who work with her everyday don’t recognise her voice in recordings. Perhaps it’s a case of mistaken identity in reverse.
Patience gets on the wrong side of the police and the real drug smuggling criminals. There’s no place to hide. Her sidekicks in crime, petty criminals the Cherkaoui brothers, who are more concerned with eating than drug dealing, immediately remind you of the fools, Rosencrantz and Gildenstern, in Hamlet. They are genuine and sincere but hapless. They are good natured opportunists who take up the Godmother’s offer thinking they will make lots of money. They don’t realise the consequences of their actions. The one critical thing for which they don’t account is who really owns the drugs that Patience is supplying.
The Godmother and her hapless partner in crime
Godmother steals drugs from criminals. Godmother sells drugs to low level criminals. Mob chases Godmother and felons. Police chase criminals and Godmother. It may sound like a Keystone Cops routine but it’s all presented in a low-key, entertaining and humorous manner. Nobody gets hurt. All strings of the story are tied into a neat bow. You will laugh, smile, experience sadness and feel empathetic. Patience is a strong woman, undoubtedly. And wait til you meet Patience’s landlord, the inimitable Colette Fo. Smart, shrewd and wily.
Karin Mauris, Cultural Attache, French Embassy, speaks about strong, fragile and funny women in The Godmother
And then we have the police. The very team of police with whom Patience works. Either Patience has done a masterful job of disguising her voice and appearance or the police she works with are, let’s be polite, not as clever and intuitive as they think they are.
Patience's police colleague, Philippe
Her team leader, Philippe, begins to suspect the new drug supplier may be Patience and the film becomes a game of cunning around Patience evading identification and Philippe being fast enough to corner The Godmother and unveil her true identity.
it all adds up to a movie that you shouldn’t miss.
You won’t be able to refuse The Godmother’s offer. Isabelle Huppert's Godmother is an uplifting portrayal of a confident woman in control of her circumstances whose cunning allows her to lead, at least for a limited time, a life that's extra-ordinary. Take up her offer. You won’t be disappointed.
The Godmother 2020 (aka Mama Weed/La Daronne, French dialogue with subtitles)
Screening in selected cinemas. Check your local cinemas for session times.
FILM EXTRAS | Crimes, Felons & Misdemeanours
The Godfather Part 1 (1972) and Part 2 (1974)
Spanning1945 to 1955, The Godfather chronicles the Corleone family under patriarch Vito Corleone (Brando), focusing on the transformation of his youngest son, Michael Corleone (Pacino), from reluctant family outsider to ruthless mafia boss.
The sequel contrasts the problems of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) in 1958 and that of a young immigrant Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro) in 1917s Hell's Kitchen. Michael survives many misfortunes and Vito is introduced to a life of crime.
City of God (2002)
In the poverty-stricken favelas of Rio de Janeiro in the 1970s, two young men choose different paths. Rocket is a budding photographer who documents the increasing drug-related violence of his neighborhood. José "Zé" Pequeno is an ambitious drug dealer who uses Rocket and his photos as a way to increase his fame as a turf war erupts with his rival, "Knockout Ned".
The film was shot on location in Rio's poorest neighborhoods.
The Wire (TV series 2002-2008; 5 seasons, 60 episodes)
James McNulty has been assigned to lead a joint homicide and narcotics team, in order to bring down drug kingpin Avon Barksdale. From the drug-infested streets of West Baltimore to the corruption of City Hall, The Wire chronicles the tribulations of a post-industrial American city.
eclectic Stefan says, "One of the best, if not the best, TV series, in any genre, ever produced. Acting. Writing. Characters. Dialogue. Story. Social commentary. All superb. Yes, a big call."
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
Humour does belong in crime films.
Eddy convinces three friends to pool funds for a high-stakes poker game against local crime boss Hatchet Harry. There’s a reason he’s called Hatchet. Harry cheats and Eddy loses, giving him a week to pay back 500,000 pounds or hand over his father's pub. Desperate, Eddy and his friends wait for their neighbours to rob some drug dealers, then rob the robbers in turn. After both thefts, the number of interested criminal parties increases.
Sensational dialogue peppered with gangsterisms like "If you hold back anything, I'll kill ya. If you bend the truth or I think you're bending the truth, I'll kill ya. If you forget anything, I'll kill ya. In fact, you're gonna have to work very hard to stay alive, Nick. Now, do you understand everything I've just said? 'Cause if you don't, I'll kill ya!", with a generous dose of humour, multiple storylines that coalesce and a fantastic soundtrack.
FBI field agent Kate Macer is approached to join a special anti-drugs task force led by FBI agent Matt Graver and mysterious operative Alejandro Gillick that also involves the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice. She is given very little information about the methods or aims of the task force, except that it is going after senior members of a Mexican drug cartel. She soon realizes that their methods are quite unorthodox, even potentially illegal.
Tension filled from beginning to end. Your moral compass will be turned inside out.
American Gangster (2007)
Harlem drug dealer Frank Lucas rises to power in corrupt 1970s New York, equalling and surpassing the notorious Mafia families with the reach of his empire. Lucas acts with impunity, smuggling heroin into the US in the coffins of American soldiers killed in Vietnam. On the other side of the law, honest cop Richie Roberts dedicates himself to taking down `the most dangerous man walking the streets’.
The Public Enemy (1931)
Two young Chicago hoodlums, Tom Powers (James Cagney) and Matt Doyle (Eddie Woods), rise up from their poverty-stricken slum life to become petty thieves, bootleggers and cold-blooded killers. But with street notoriety and newfound wealth, the duo feels the heat both from the cops and rival gangsters. James Cagney is the original, hard-nosed, old-school gangster.
“You dirty, double-crossing rat.”
-- James Cagney
A young man grows up in the mob and works very hard to advance himself through the ranks. He enjoys his life of money and luxury, but is oblivious to the horror that he causes. A drug addiction and a few mistakes ultimately unravel his climb to the top.