Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
France/South Africa, 2013. Eskwad, Pathé, Lobster Tree, M6 Films, Canal+, Ciné+, M6, W9. Screenplay by Julien Rappeneau, Jerome Salle, based on the book by Caryl Ferey. Cinematography by Denis Rouden. Produced by Richard Grandpierre. Music by Alexandre Desplat. Production Design by Laurent Ott. Costume Design by Rae Donnelly. Film Editing by Stan Collet. Cannes Film Festival 2013. Toronto International Film Festival 2013.
Cape Town police officers Forest Whitaker and Orlando Bloom are on the case of a girl who has been beaten to death, an investigation that takes them deep into a rabbit hole of crime and conspiracy. A third member of their team is viciously attacked, while the girl’s murder is linked to a ring of drug dealers who are unloading a new product on the streets that, when looked into even further, goes up the food chain towards some very important people. Shady bad guys high and low are implicated in the post-Apartheid nation that still bears grievous scars from the past that have not healed. Both our protagonists are haunted by devastating experiences, which influence the case as this twisty and involving police thriller goes into increasingly darker territory. Based on the novel by Caryl Ferey, it’s also an entertaining police film that engenders enough sympathy for its characters to keep you in your seat and have you flinch at every injury that is threatened or incurred: that said, be warned that the violence is pretty gruesome and not for the faint of heart. Uncovering the holes in the perceived restoration of humanity achieved by South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a fascinating story to explore, and is not cheapened by presenting it within the confines of the thriller genre (or, for that matter, by the inclusions of an American Oscar winner and a gorgeous matinee idol in the cast), but the film falters when it pushes a bit too hard on contrived situations to make victims out of just about anyone we feel the least bit of affection for. It would do better to not demand our outrage so blatantly, but it’s also memorable and at times exciting.