French Film Review: La Nuit du 12

French Film Review: La Nuit du 12

Sooner or later, every police officer comes across a case that remains unsolved and haunts him. For Yohan (Bastien Bouillon), Clara’s murder turns out to be that case, and what starts as an investigation into the victim’s life soon turns into an obsession.

Unusually, as viewers, we are told from the offset not to expect to find out whodunnit. There’s a stillness to this movie that’s quite audacious: the brutal, gory horror of the crime (the victim is set alight on her way home) is in stark contrast to the exquisite mountain scenery surrounding Grenoble, where the action takes place. Even her mother is struck silent by shock, rather than giving in to the breast-beating and wailing so often depicted.

The repeated rounds of interrogation – there is no shortage of suspects – are strangely compelling and Yohan finds himself faced with more and more doubts. The only one thing we can be certain of, it seems, is that the crime occurred on the night of the 12th. The film is adapted from Pauline Guéna’s book, 18.3-A Year With the Crime Squad, focusing on only a 30-page section of the 500-page tome. Guéna spent a year in the Versailles Criminal Investigation Department, experiencing the juxtaposition of every-day routine and the most harrowing situations imaginable.

Dominik Moll’s movie was a huge hit at the Césars, receiving ten nominations and earning well-deserved wins in six categories, including Best Film, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director. The perfomances are also excellent: Lanners won the César for Best Supporting Actor while Bouillon won Most Promising Actor.

It is a beautifully made film, albeit not the cheeriest of subject matters, and one whose haunting sorrow will stay with you.

Director: Dominik Moll

Starring: Bastien Bouillon, Bouli Lanners, Anouk Grinberg

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From France Today magazine

Lead photo credit : © Fanny de Gouville

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