Supremes

Supremes
Running time:112 minutes
Director:Audrey Estrougo
Release:Cinema
Release date:Not communicated
Rating:
1989. In the underprivileged suburbs of Paris, a group of friends find a way to express themselves through the hip-hop movement that has just arrived in France. After dancing and graffiti, JoeyStarr and Kool Shen start to write rap lyrics impregnated with the anger that smolders in the suburbs. Their feverish rhythms and their revolting texts do not take long to galvanize the crowds and ... to clash with the authorities. But no matter, the Supreme NTM was born and with him the French rap makes a smashing debut!

Mulder's Review

The musical impact of the best French rap group Suprême NTM is undeniable and continues to inspire many artists by their integrity and lyrics that ring true and two strong personalities JoeyStarr and Kool Shen. The four albums of Suprême NTM Authentik (1991), 1993... J'appuie sur la gâchette (1993), Paris sous les bombes (1995), Suprême NTM (1998) have been a huge success and despite the separation of the group in 2001, the group was able to reunite in two phenomenal tours in 2008 and 2018. The smashing success of this authentic group has become a real social phenomenon in the sense that the music of Suprême NTM testifies to a real cry on the many inequalities that strike the suburbs. While rap was dominated by American groups and singers, Suprême NTM succeeded in making a name for themselves and above all in composing striking songs based on well-crafted texts and a catchy musical flow.

It is easy to understand that the success story of the group Suprême NTM deserved to give birth to a film retracing the beginnings of the group from the department of Seine-Saint-Denis. Audrey Estrougo and Marcia Romano's script finds the right approach to explain how Suprême NTM emerged and how the friendship between Didier Morville (Joeystarr) and Bruno Lopes (Kool Shen) gave this group a real strength as much on the writing of the songs as on their charismatic presence on stage.  In the same way, Suprêmes places at the center of the story the fate of the Parisian suburbs, plagued by violence, gangs and the will of some people to get out of it legally and not by supporting certain reprehensible acts.  The lyrics of the group Suprême NTM sound like a desire to speak frankly about strong themes such as standing up against racism, police brutality and social inequality. From the very first images of the film, taken from documents of the time and showing President François Mitterrand speaking about the problems of the working class suburbs, we understand that the film Supremes will show how two young teenagers, each with their own felue, will find through music a way to exorcise their demons. 

Focusing on the beginnings of Suprême NTM's career from 1989 to their first concert at the Zenith in Paris in 1992. The film traces the portrait of Joeystarr and Kool Shen who each have their own way of exorcising their anger, whether through drugs, alcohol or writing for Joeystarr, or through a desire to give real emotional strength to his texts for Kool Shen. The contrast between these two artists literally explodes on the screen and shows how despite the explosive character of Joeystarr, the group Suprême NTM managed to exist and revolutionize French rap before imploding. The skilfully constructed film shows that the existence of Suprême NTM is inseparable from an era in which a protest movement in the Paris region was growing stronger. The numerous confrontations between the police and young people are shown several times in this film to also show that violence is not the only way to be heard, music is also a strong way to be heard especially if it is composed with real power. Suprême NTM has imposed itself as a true voice of those that the French government has abandoned and parked in suburbs with no future.

Audrey Estrougo known for her independent films like Encore un printemps (2008), Une histoire banale (2013), La taularde (2016) and A la folie (2022) realizes here simply her best film and benefits from a perfect casting with notably the comedians Théo Christine (Didier Morville / JoeyStarr), Sandor Funtek (Bruno Lopes / Kool Shen), Félix Lefebvre (Sébastien Farran) and César Chouraqui (Frank Chevalier). Certainly his film seems to be the logical continuation of films like La Haine (1995), Les Misérables (2019) in its documentary and realistic approach and not idealized suburbia. In the same way the scenes of the first concerts in small rooms refer to that of the cult film of Curtis Hanson 8 mile (2003). We can thus perfectly feel the will of Joeystarr and Kool Shen and their band to let their rage explode in hard-hitting songs and the undeniable talent that comes from it cements the promising beginnings of the phenomenon that will be Suprême NTM.

We will also appreciate that the film Supremes does not want to idealize the duo Joeystarr and Kool Shen and shows the struggles of these two artists who want to get out of the too ordinary life of suburbia to become real artists known and appreciated by the public. While Joeystarr is portrayed in the film as a person on a perpetual quest to connect with his father despite being beaten as a child and his penchant for alcohol and not being able to control himself brings a touch of appropriate realism to the film. Certainly Suprêmes is a striking film that really makes you want to listen to Suprême NTM again and brings an interesting look at the French rap scene.

Supremes
Directed by Audrey Estrougo
Produced by Christophe Rossignon and Philip Boëffard
Written by Audrey Estrougo and Marcia Romano
Starring Sandor Funtek, Théo Christine, Zakaria El Baialy, Vini Vivarelli, César Chouraqui, Félix Lefebvre, Akeem Freitas, Chloé Lecerf, Matéo Krikorian 
Music by Cut Killer
Cinematography : Éric Dumont
Edited by Sophie Reine
Production companies : Nord-Ouest Films and Artémis Productions
Distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing France (France)
Release date : July 10, 2021 (Cannes Film Festival), November 24, 2021 (France)
Running time : 112 minutes

Seen on September 28, 2021 at Gaumont Disney Village, Room 3 place A19

Mulder's Mark: