By Dominic Antill

Mathieu Kassovitz’s Rebellion recounts the events that took place on the picturesque Ouvea Island, part of the French colony of New Caledonia, in 1988.

The French colony’s separatist Kanaks, in an attempt to force their plight into the political consciousness, raid a police station, killing three officers and taking 26 hostages.

Context is important here with President Francois Mitterand and Jacques Chirac from the left and right respectively using New Caledonia as a political battleground during the elections.rebellion-quad

This is where the story picks up as Kassovitz’s chief negotiator Philippe Legorjus, Captain of the GIGN, a counter terrorism unit, is called to save the hostages by opening dialogue with the Kanaks.

As is consistently reiterated, ‘dialogue’ was the key facet tragically ignored by the government as alongside Captain Legorjus’ arrival the French military are also poised to resolve the conflict by their methods.

Kassovitz earmarks the impending time limit with a count down from 10 days in tandem with a deep and malicious thud, providing a foreboding sense of what is yet to come.

This jars against the island’s natural beauty but reinforces the oddity of the scenario – with a situation seemingly very much under Captain Legorjus’ control, where does it all go wrong?

For some, this wait could manifest into boredom as the intermediary dialogue provides a simplistic reflection of the political motives already set in stone.

The moral alignment of the interested parties is perhaps too clear, leaving little intrigue as to who is really in it for themselves and who isn’t.

In truth though (which is Kassovitz’s main concern), this is a documentation of events that otherwise have been reported with the typical spin of unreasonable barbarians threatening the principles of democracy.

Kassovitz does allow for a few brilliant moments of action, such as the panoramic dreamlike recount of the original hostage assault.

The intensity of the initial contact between hostages and negotiators is fast moving, disorientating and as impressive as the fervid, acute finale all exacerbated by the dense, claustrophobic jungle.

The David and Goliath tale of a small community fighting against the brute force of a powerful ‘democratic’ nation is not a new one.

But Kassovitz convincingly reminds you however that these otherwise discarded moments in history shouldn’t spare the perpetrators the ignominy of the truth.

REBELLION hits UK cinemas on April 19

About The Author