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Bumrush: Bad News Brown’s posthumous acting debut showcases the gritty side of Montreal


No more than two months after the tragic murder of its standout star, award-winning director Michel Jetté’s Bumrush hits theatres today. A gritty homespun tale of Montreal gang violence, the film’s ensemble cast is centered around, and in large part hand picked by, the late up-and-coming rapper from Montreal’s Saint-Henri neighbourhood. 

In Bad News Brown, Jetté found more than just a recognizable name and a connected co-producer. Haitian-born Bad News Brown (real name Paul Frappier) was adopted by a Montreal family, grew up here and got his show-business start as a harmonica-wielding busker on the street and in the metro, making his way to underground hip-hop fame in no time. Reveling in the international success of his 2009 debut album Born 2 Sin, the 33 year-old rapper and father had opened for such big-name stars as Kanye West, 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg and shared the stage with Nas, Ice T and Cypress Hill, among others. In his first film role, the musician plays “Loosecanon” (LC), evoking both the professional stage-confident air of a seasoned actor and the gritty, streetwise believability of his own personal history. As well, of course, as the impulsive (and explosive) nature of the film’s utterly volatile gangbanging characters.

Bad News is scarcely the film’s only semi-true-to-life character. The head soldier in the ficional “I.B. 11” gang, Bad News’ street-tough cohorts are made up almost entirely of his own real-life Montreal acquaintances, with the same going for the crew’s enemies. In both film and reality, Papy (Pat Lemaire), is the head of Kingdom gentleman’s club, where much of Bumrush’s gang-fueled violence and backroom deal-making takes place.

A glimpse into a side of Montreal sparsely dealt with by filmmakers, Bumrush stays true to Montreal’s diverse make-up, with many of the film’s extensive and diverse cast flowing effortlessly between gritty Quebecois French and authentic street-tough English, not to mention the Italian and even Creole thrown in the mix. Jetté’s trusting, but driven direction lets the actors speak how they actually would if the film’s scenarios were in fact true to life. And it’s because of this that the film’s best moments often feel as if they are.

 

 

Bumrush | Now in theatres
bumrushlefilm.com | badnewsbrown.com