Victor Hugo’s Paris, Then And Now

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A still frame from the 2019 film "Les Miserables."

Victor Hugo’s eponymous novel “Les Misérables” is a study in class warfare in 19th century France. “Les Misérables” is also the name of Ladj Ly’s 2019 film which offers a modern-day version of the clash of the class tale set in the same Paris neighborhood where Hugo’s novel takes place.

The film will be screened at Guild Hall on January 18, at 6 p.m. as part of HamptonsFilm “Now Showing” series, which brings first-run art house, independent, and world cinema films currently in theaters to the East End.

The film tells the story of Stéphane (Damien Bonnard) as he is starting his first day as a member of the Anti-Crime Squad in Montfermeil, the Paris suburb of Hugo’s novel. There, he finds himself thrown into a community rife with tension and nearing a breaking point. When a surprise ambush breaks up an otherwise routine arrest, an act of spontaneous violence at the hands of one of Stéphane’s colleagues pushes the police deep into the fractured realities of the neighborhood and immigrant communities they are meant to protect.

Provocatively drawing a line between Hugo’s classic book and the country’s contemporary realities, Ly’s directorial debut is a timely look at the crippling tensions at the core of modern France. The film is shortlisted as France’s official entry for the Best International Feature Film Oscar.

Tickets for the screening are $15 ($13 members) at 631-324-4050 or Theatermania.com at 1-866-811-4111. Guild Hall is at 158 Main Street, East Hampton.

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