Modi Barry and Cédric Ido's debut feature Chateau is set around the Château d’Eau metro station in Paris. Here, two groups make a living hustling back and forth between potential punters in the street and the African hair salons that occupy the adjacent streets. Charles (like the Prince) is a smooth, smartly dressed charmer who despairs that his rival, Bébé, can't understand that jumping on people just as they leave the metro station is not the best way of doing business. Also, who listens to somebody dressed in a football shirt?
Charles also has grand plans, he's sold all his designer gear and is in the process of sweet-talking Mourat (an immigrant poet / barber who is considering giving up his salon and retiring) into selling the shop to him so he can set up on his own and not have to deal with all the other shops. This distracts Charles from his day to day though and soon the troops are becoming restless and there is talk of a takeover bid amongst the haggling over territory and business hours. Oh, and somebody took a shit on the dashboard of the Nigerian's car....
Barry and Ido's movie is as bustling as its characters. Charles is forever on the move (in his new shoes - the only concession to his promise to himself to keep off the shopping until his deal is done) and the swirl of characters that orbit him are a rag tag mob. His rivalry with Bébé is fraught but only ever really at street level, this isn't a movie that is going to spill over into stylised violence and it is all the better for it.
The back and forth between Jacky Ido as Charles and the wide range of forces his is trying to coerce into doing his bidding is rapid and immensely enjoyable to watch. Ido is a commanding presence, shouldering the movie with an elegant ease that suits his character well. This is no stereotyped street hustler, Charles has dreams, his father was a poet and the poetry read to him by Mourat, though in a language that he does not understand, still speaks to the burgeoning entrepreneur. Of course, things do not go smoothly for his plans but, hey, tomorrow is another day and he will always be Charles, like the Prince.
Chateau is a kinetic, talky, whirl of a movie. Ido is superb as the magnetic Charles and his tale is told with enough humour and genuine optimism that is a breath of fresh air for a story about immigrants making their way in Europe.