Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sleepless Night (Nuit Blanche)

It's the weekend before Fantasia, and I guess my pre-fest warm-up isn't going to be the usual "get on a bus, ride a long way, see a bunch of movies and sleep in a bed other than my own" of going to NYAFF that it has been for the past few years, but "staying up until 2am to see a foreign action movie". Not the most intense ramp-up, but there it is.

Not much to say, other than digital projections make me wonder where to sit. I usually like the front row, but digital doesn't look quite good from there. Especially since there were portions of the movie that looked really digital - certain action scenes in particular. They seemed to use a different camera it came time to go hand-held for close-up shots. A bit weird, but not jarringly so.

I guess it was a bit of a brush-up on my French, too, but just enough for me to recognize that "Nuit Blanche" is kind of a cooler name than "sleepless night", and wondering if anybody calls French crime movies of this type "flic-flicks", or if that sort of cross-lingual slang is just two specialize a bit of nerdiness.

Sleepless Night (Nuit Blanche)

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 13 July 2012 in the Brattle Theatre (first-run, digital)

As much as action movies and thrillers will often try to impress by their intricacy and build-up to a spectacular climax, there is something tremendously satisfying to the two-step process that Frédéric Jardin uses for Sleepless Night (Nuit Blanche, in the original French): Set it up, play it out. It doesn't always work, but here it makes for a lean, efficient flic flick.

The set-up: Two corrupt Paris cops, Vincent (Tomer Sisley) and Manu (Laurent Stocker) steal ten kilos of coke from its couriers, but in the process Vincent gets both stabbed and recognized, leading Corsican gangster José Marciano (Serge Riaboukine) to kidnap his son Thomas (Samy Seghir) and demand the drugs in exchange. Things play out when Vincent heads to José's elaborate "Club Tarmac" to make the swap, with internal affairs detectives Lacombe (Julie Boisselier) and Vignali (Lizzie Brocheré) not far behind.

One can often spot an especially well made film of this genre by the way it transitions from the set-up to the payoff, and it's seldom because that switch is invisible. Sometimes, a situation suddenly and violently explodes into chaos. That's not Jardin's game; instead, he nudges the audience to pay attention: Vincent is putting the drugs here and a gun there, but he doesn't notice that Vignali is watching him or that she's doing this other thing. The filmmakers are telling the audience It will be cat-and-mouse time very soon, so scoot forward in your seat a little so you can have a closer look at the game to be played.

Full review at EFC.

No comments: