Oussekine makes the striking x-ray of France in the 80s [critique]

With this very political social chronicle, Disney offers itself a French creation with impressive ambition.

Two months after its preview at the Series Mania festival, Disney Plus is launching today Oussekine, his new French creation, with a surprising political vocation and skilfully meticulous production. It should mark the spirits.

It must be said that this historical drama takes us back 40 years, to the France of 1986. In this month of December, the students have been standing up for weeks against the Devaquet law, which aims (essentially) to establish a selection at the entrance to universities. While the demonstrations are increasingly repressed by the police, the young Malik Oussekine is killed by the police. This 22-year-old kid of Algerian origin, with no history and not even involved in the student struggle, was facing the wrong people, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. The series recounts his family’s fight to obtain justice and above all seeks to understand the impact that this tragedy had on French society at the time.

The France of the mid-1980s, that of cohabitation (Mitterrand/Chirac), is first depicted with impressive accuracy in Oussekine. Everything has been thought out down to the smallest detail, from the lively Parisian atmosphere to the boosted rhythm of a Super 5 Turbo, to the indefinable clothes or this soundtrack balavoinesque unavoidable. Above all, the political and social atmosphere of the time is transcribed with an almost naturalistic meticulousness. Because this decorum essentially serves as a social chronicle with a surprising, if not totally unexpected, ambition.

Oussekine may be a Disney creation (the third French series on the platform in this case), it fully assumes its very political side. Produced in the midst of the George Floyd drama and its aftershocks, it resonates in a very special way in our ears in 2022. As a reminder that history is ultimately only repeating itself, as if to warn us that everything we have been able to decry at the Within Trump’s America also exists sadly, brutally, here, there and elsewhere.

Because Oussekine goes far in his plea. Without taboos or restraint, the series does not hesitate to stage the manipulations of the State to cover up what was a real unspeakable racist blunder. A crime which, we understand, almost triggered the same kind of riots in France as those which have shaken the United States in recent years. As such, Oussekine advances like a necessary series, a testimony that will have taken 40 years to reach us with all its meaning.

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