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Clement Cogitore Sons Of Ramses Goutte d'Or Review


Goutte d’Or (Son of Ramses) | 2022 Cannes Film Festival Review

Goutte d’Or (Son of Ramses) | 2022 Cannes Film Festival Review

Sun of a Gun: Cogitore Returns with Cryptic Drama on Violence, Exploitation

France’s Clément Cogitore is clearly a fan of the mysterious and inexplicable sinews connecting us all, in any given time or place. His 2015 debut Ni le ciel ni la terre (aka The Wakhan Front) was in the vein of Peter Weir’s enigmatic classic Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975). His sophomore film, Sons of Ramses, arriving seven years later, also explores the ripple effects of psychic discord in a community unwittingly developing instruments of cyclical trauma thanks to generations of dwindling resources.

The French language title, La Goutte d’Or, refers to a specific Parisian neighborhood (which means ‘drop of gold’), suggesting a diamond in the rough obscured by poverty and squalor. A simple narrative arc punctuated with supernatural ambiguities for a protagonist who finds himself drawn into a situation which forces him to revisit his own youth and question his own existence, it’s yet another mix of the arcane and sublime from Cogitore.

Ramses (Karim Leklou) is a successful clairvoyant, or mage, well known to all in his neighborhood. But he’s actually a charlatan, having designed a slick scheme whereby he can glean personal information from customer’s smartphones for ‘readings’ and intimate interactions with their deceased loved ones. When a gang of children who seem hellbent on taking over the neighborhood sweep through the community, Ramses happens to make a horrible discovery when he perhaps experiences an actual vision, leading him to the hidden corpse of a murdered young man in a construction yard. The gang of children are desperate to locate this person and become embroiled with Ramses, whose scamming as a psychic must now be used to protect his own life.

Although a bit more heavy-handed than Cogitore’s previous film, Sons of Ramses still inherently uses mood as the receptacle for contemplating humanity. Certain bits of dialogue, such as a direct line borrowing from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, “all the demons are here,” feels more over the top than the tone of makes room for, as does the significant violence of the young children terrorizing the neighborhood. Similarly, the search for their dead comrade, whose person contains something of economic value, suggests a modern kinship to Treasure Island, only swashbuckling adventure has been replaced by the dire straits of the street.

Karim Leklou, recently of The World is Ours (2018) and Playground (2021), proves to be a fitting entry into the swirling multicultural community in which he exploits. One of the film’s more interesting sequences concerns a group of similar ‘merchants’ complaining about how Ramses is taking away profits, dividing up customers by ethnicity for fairness. How this forces him to reexamine his role and perhaps formulate a sense of responsibility to a community he’s only taken from provides unexpected poignancy by the final frames.

Clement Cogitore Sons Of Ramses Goutte d'Or Review

This empathy mixed with the subtle shades of sensational elements recalls Francois Dupeyron’s One of a Kind (2013), an underrated exercise in the healing power of kindness. While Cogitore’s original title is a direct reference to this particular neighborhood, located near Montmartre, the allusion to the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses, a name which means ‘son of Ra,’ the god of the Sun, enhances the theme of inheritance, lineage and responsibility to community outside of direct bloodlines.

Reviewed on May 20th at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival – Critics’ Week. 98 Mins


Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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