Tag Archives: Anouk Grinberg

No Country for Young Women

The Night of the 12th

by George Wolf

The police work on display in The Night of the 12th (La nuit du 12) is methodical, committed, and sometimes intense. You can say the same about the filmmaking.

Director and co-writer Dominick Moll introduces his latest as a retelling of a “based on true events” unsolved case that still haunts a veteran French police captain. But as he unveils the facts of the investigation in an intimate and calculating manner, Moll deftly brings more universal concerns to the forefront.

Yohan Vives (Bastien Bouillon) rises to Le capitaine after a retirement on the force, and it’s at the going-away party for the retiree that we first glimpse the signs of a generational divide.

Not long after Yohan’s promotion, 21-year old Clara Royer (Lula Cotton-Frapier) is attacked and killed while walking home from a party. And as Yohan digs into the details of the life Clara had been living, he starts to realize that something’s also “amiss” between men and women.

Moll (With a Friend Like Harry…, Lemming, Only the Animals) pulls off a tricky balancing act here. He brings a detached, documentary-like approach to the investigation itself, but adds layers of humanity through Yohan’s growing obsession with the case, and the B story involving an older investigator named Marceau (Bouli Lanners).

Marceau’s marriage is suddenly in serious trouble, and the effect this has on his approach to Clara’s case brings the narrative threads together with a weary resignation. Bouillon and Lanners are terrific leads amid a first-rate ensemble that includes Pauline Serieys as Clara’s grieving best friend and Anouk Grinberg as a sympathetic judge who urges Yohan not to give up on the case.

Cinematographer Patrick Ghiringhelli immerses us in the imposing beauty of the French Alps, while Moll’s Memories of Murder setup gradually adopts a more Cormac McCarthy worldview, but it’s one more focused on how that world views women, young or old.

This is a completely absorbing crime drama, and one that is not afraid to reach beyond its local jurisdiction. By the end of The Night of the 12th, Moll has drawn us into a tragic mystery and left us searching for answers to questions beyond the identity of Clara’s killer.

Merely Players

The Innocent

by George Wolf

With The Innocent (L’innocent), director/co-writer/co-star Louis Garrel takes Shakespeare’s declaration that “all the world’s a stage” to some clever and literal ends.

Or, he mines madcap laughs from a man trying to catch his mother’s new husband in a lie.

Or, he builds tension from a “sure thing” heist sure to go wrong.

Or maybe he’s just trying to comment on the needless games we sometimes play for love.

Really, the film’s biggest hurdle is keeping the whiplash at bay as it juggles all of these tones for just over 90 minutes. And for the most part its balancing act is successful, crafting a breezy and amusing take at all the untrue stories we tell.

Sylvie (Anouk Grinberg) teaches drama to prison inmates (as Garrel’s own mother did for many years), and falls in love with the incarcerated Michel (Roschdy Zem). They marry, which doesn’t thrill Sylvie’s adult son Abel (Garrel, who you may remember as Theo from The Dreamers), and once Michel is released, Abel sets out to prove to his mother that Michel is still up to no good.

Meanwhile, Abel and Clémence (Noémie Merlant, so good in Tár and Portrait of a Lady on Fire) stand delicately on the last rung of the friend zone, each seemingly waiting for the other to jump off.

Garrel blurs the line between acting and lying (to others and ourselves) with a slyly comical hand, amid pauses to remind us how crucial sincerity is to successful relationships.

Okay, that’s enough, now back to this zany caviar robbery!

American audiences may find The Innocent to be more of an acquired taste than those in Garrel’s native France, but anyone who dives in shouldn’t bail too quickly. Give this splendid cast time to pull all the threads together, and they’ll build a stage big enough for comedy, drama, romance and heart.