The Squale / La Squale
Year of release: 2000
Directed by: Fabrice Génestal
At the film's centre are Désiree, an androgynous black woman, and Yasmine, a more conventionally feminine beurette. They vie for the affection of the black gang leader Toussaint, who combines all possible stereotypes of male violence and delinquency, including gang raping young ethnic minority women who inhabit the banlieue, where La Squale is set.
As in most banlieue films, the focus is on the second generation, though La Squale offers some insights into the protagonists' family backgrounds, confirming all sorts of ethnic stereotypes. Désiree is the daughter of a young, single black mother who is not even sure about the father's identity. Désiree repeats her mother's 'mistake' by conceiving a child from Toussaint, an irresponsible man, whose violent excesses are eventually avenged by the gang and he is killed. Meanwhile, Yasemin's father has left the family three years ago and she suffers under the excessive patriarchal control and abuse of her older brother. Although the film's improbable ending, showing Yasemin and Désiree, who have overcome their rivalry and are now friends on Brighton beach in England, where they have travelled since Désiree is contemplating an abortion (if she carries a boy) suggests that this is a girl power movie, La Squale does not mark a genuine departure from stereotypes of ethnic minority masculinity and femininity. Instead it conforms to dominant French assumptions about the inadequacy of immigrant families.