The first movie that springs to mind is Girlfight.
But this is not Girlfight. Yes, this is a movie about a girl who wants to make it in the world of female boxing. But that’s where the parallels end.
This is Dans Les Cordes.
This is the movie debut of director Magaly Richard-Serrano. If her name is familiar, you’re probably interested in boxing. Magaly Richard-Serrano is a former junior boxing champion of France and the niece of a former world champion. Boxing isn’t just a part of the family tradition, the boxing blood is running through Magaly’s veins.
And Richard-Serrano was able to translate this love onto the screen, so that we, non-boxing moviegoers, could also understand what it feels like to be a boxer.
Richard Anconina (Joseph) is a former boxer. He has a daughter (Angie), who wants to claim the junior title one day, and a niece (Sandra), who’s also into boxing. Sandra has been raised as a daughter ever since her mother died. Sandra looks up to Angie, but when Angie is severely wounded during a fight and has to skip the next match, Sandra seizes the opportunity to claim her share of the limelight, wins the match and becomes the champion in her category.
Which is when things get worse… Sandra suddenly starts to lose weight, so she could end up in Angie’s weight category and claim the title Angie hadn’t been able to win. Angie is furious. With her cousin, who even tries to fit Angie’s clothes so she can see how much weight she’s already lost. With her dad, for abandoning all hope in her. And with her mother, who starts blaming Sandra for everything, claiming she is as much of a rotten apple as her late sister (Sandra’s mother). One big happy family!
Angie and Sandra fall out, one training becomes extremely vicious (ever wanted to see two girls beat each other to pulp?) and the family ends up completely shattered. And this with the ultimate fight only days away…
More than Girlfight, Dans Les Cordes manages to capture the feeling of what it’s like to be a boxing girl. On the other hand, if you compare Girlfight and Dans Les Cordes, you’ll have to confess that in the end Girlfight is the better of the two movies.
Ultimately, the tragical history of Angie’s family lacks the intrigue to keep you interested for the full 90 minutes. To overcome that, the film should’ve focused more on the boxing itself or have focused more the characters (as it is, the characters are 2.5 dimensional rather than 3D).
Which doesn’t mean that Dans Les Cordes is not a good movie: my ultimate verdict for this movie will be 6.5 out of 10. But this 6.5 movie shows so much passion (for both boxing and cinema) that you’re willing to overlook the unfinished bits.
Louise Szpindel is very good as Angie. You sometimes wonder if boxing isn’t one of her hobbies. (I hadn’t seen her before, but this was already her tenth role.) Richard Anconina is very famous in France (though not a lot of his movies have made it across the border), but probably the most famous person (globally) in this movie is Maria de Medeiros, who gets to play the labile mother.
I read somewhere that the director worked six years on this film before it was finally finished. As is often the case with projects that take up such a long time, the result is not a complete success. I don’t know why: maybe because the people involved get so familiar with their work they lack the ability to cut into their beloved work with a severe critic’s mind. As is often the case with such projects, the viewer feels the love for the project so much (s)he doesn’t have the heart to be very critical about it.
Dans Les Cordes is far from the best movie you’ll see this year, but there’s enough love put into this picture you’ll be able to enjoy it, even if you won’t remember it for the rest of your life.