Look at these fast bikes and this tough rider.
In “Rodeo,” the latest French import, Julia (Julie Ledru) is troubled and independent Caribbean biker, who has a talent for stealing used motorbikes from online sellers by making them hold her purses filled with pebbles. She finds herself with a group of professional bikers-Rodeos to be exact-with dangerous, but amazing stunts. Looking at these stunts is so authentic and riveting, that it feels like a break from the special effects fiascos we’ve been engaging in lately.
And I know there have been motorbike racing movies before, but it still feels like something out of “The Fast and The Furious,” especially when the story involves crimes. Comparing “Rodeo” to its sequels (“Fate of the Furious,” “Hobbs and Shaw,” and “F9”) reminds me of how I just compared an Italian superhero film “They Call Me Jeeg” to the latest MCU entry “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” considering they both feature thieves who enter the superhero game.
“Rodeo” is a French biking film with more courage than your average American action films and a lead character who isn’t supposed to be typical or standard, but daring and original. I wasn’t too enthusiastic about the story, but I was enthusiastic about its direction from Lola Quivoron and its leading lady, portrayed strongly by Ledru.
In addition to my comparisons, this film using a heroine who finds herself in dangerous territory reminded me of how Aubrey Plaza entered the world of stolen credit scams in “Emily the Criminal,” especially when Julia gets injured by an unknown hoodlum. Does this girl know what she’s getting herself into? She thinks does, but really she doesn’t. Most newbies don’t. They can adapt, which is ideal. But let’s see how Julia does.
This crime ring is run by the incarcerated Domino, who has his wife Ophelie (Antonia Buresi) and son Kylian (Cody Schroeder) barricaded in their home. Julia agrees to handle their groceries, and she even connects with them. That is until he finds out the young lady gave them a ride on her bike. That’s when he warns her to stay away from them.
The story is convoluted with the heists and conflicts, which seem to be all flustered and nearly affects my viewing of “Rodeo.” But the bike rides, performances, and complex nature are all the elements that made me enjoy the film. It took me awhile to warm up to the main character, based on her life choices and characteristics, but not every main character has to be the same type of character. I’ve never heard about Ledru, because this is her first movie role, and she plays her with the right attitude and material. And her chemistry with Buresi has a certain kind of vibe that shows us that maybe Julia can be a better person than how the move describes her. Or maybe it’s how I’m describing her. Hard to say.
And let’s get back to the bike racing. These riders are popping so many wheelies at such a fast pace, you’re thinking to yourself: “There’s no way I can do that.” This would be coming from the mind of a person who has never even rode a motorcycle before. If this was a commercial film, it probably would be glamorized to cater to the “Fast & Furious” crowd. But because this is a French film, and usually international features moistly go for realism, it all feels riveting, exciting, and beautifully photographed.
In Select Theaters This Friday