A Well Written, Heartwarming French Film
Balancing a blend of comedy and drama, French Netflix Original Bad Seeds is the perfect example of how to tell a simple story well. Themes around acceptance and inclusion are woven throughout the narrative and as the film reaches its climactic final act, Bad Seeds does a good job shaking off its cliched, stereotypical story. It’s still a little predictable at times but for the most part, this comedy does a great job getting its message across in a heartwarming way.
The film opens with some beautiful juxtaposing images of military intervention and the harsh realities of war. It’s something that seems like an odd choice for a comedy to begin with but this soon becomes clearer as we’re introduced to con artist Wael and his adoptive mother; fellow scam-artist Monique. After being caught trying to con one of Monique’s old acquaintances, Wael is forced to lead a youth class full of troubled kids or face criminal charges. What begins as punishment quickly leads to something much more profound and touching as we get to know each of the kids and learn more of Wael’s past.
From here Bad Seeds takes a clever stance, painting each of the kids with a pretty stereotypical brush when we first meet them. As we learn more about their history and what led to each of them ending up in the youth centre, the film becomes a much more important and timeless tale, teaching us not to judge a book by its cover and to be more accepting of others. While these seem like pretty simple human concepts, in an increasingly volatile world it’s a message that certainly resonates. It’s also pulled off with enough finesse to avoid it feeling preachy or condescending.
Bad Seeds is pretty formulaic though and the redemption tale at the heart of the film is full of the usual twists and turns you’d expect from this genre. The betrayal, the misunderstanding and redemption of character tropes all show up here and it’s something that Bad Seeds has trouble shaking at times. Thankfully, the unpredictable final act does go some way in shaking these conventions but for the most part, this French picture settles into a nice rhythm for much of its run time.
As the film progresses, so too does the tone, shifting from outright comedy to more of a dramedy; this is especially evident as the attention shifts from Wael to the conflict between two of the kids, Karim and Ludo. This proves to be the key driver for much of the drama and it’s here where Bad Seeds excels in personifying its themes.
Despite the slightly formulaic approach to this cliched tale of redemption, Bad Seeds is a really heartwarming French film. The characters are likeable, the humour well implemented and the strong dramatic punch at the end makes Bad Seeds quite the journey to take. It’s not without flaws but Bad Seeds is an enjoyable film and worth checking out.