LA NUIT DU 12 (The Night of the 12th) (Frame 2022) ****
Directed by Dominik Moll
THE NIGHT OF THE 12th (LA NUIT DU 12) has opened in the U.K. and has a limited American release in May in the U.S. Detectives based in Grenoble, south-east France, investigate the death by burning of a young woman, Cara Royer (Lula Cotton-Frapier) walking home from a party. While there are suspects a-plenty, there’s no smoking gun or conclusive proof of guilt. The case soon becomes an obsession for the newly appointed police captain, Yohan Vives (Bastien Boullion). The film has already won 7 Cesars (the French equivalent of the Oscars) and won the most prestigious prizes of Best Film and Best Director for Dominik Moll. Moll’s only film that have been released in Canada is HARRY, HE’S HERE TO HELP in 2000, his breakthrough film followed after 5 years by the Cannes opener LEMMING s brilliant sophisticated thriller that almost no one in Canada saw. LA NUIT DU 12, based on a true crime book by Pauline Guéna, is a brilliant piece of filmmaking, sensitive, gripping, moody and taut from start to finish, Hopefully some distributor will pick this film up for Canada.
The film opens with the lines saying that every year, the French police open more than 800 murder cases with 20% going unsolved. It then goes on to say that this film follows the case of one of them. Two things are immediately to be noted by these lines. Number one is that the film is going to be an intriguing one, and the other is that the case will remain unsolved with the killer unfound.
LA NUIT DU 12 (The Night of the 12th) is a French policier in the true sense of the word. It doggedly follows the manhunt of a killer by the police. But with a difference, Director Moll is more interested in the emotions and reactions surrounding the murder from the victim’s parents, friends and acquaintances to the police investigators. The whodunit element is still there but is secondary to how the murder investigation is taking place. Unlike other policiers, there is little to no action, only clues that often lead nowhere.
The film effectively tackles the male dominated world of detective and police work. Like the recent 2019 LES MISERABLES by Lady Ly, that film featured 3 male cops. Yohan and his partner, a veteran of more years, Marceau (Bouli Lanners) are often angry. Marceau is worse, bringing his marriage problems to his work that results in him beating up a prime suspect. The victim, Clara Royer, the young girl is looked down upon as she has got many lovers, many disgusting older men and is not looked upon as a victim. In the film’s most emotional point, her friend Stephanie tells Yohan she knows the reason Clara was murdered. And the reason is that she was a girl.
The film is set in the south east mountain city of Grenoble. From the scenes of Grenoble, it looks as if the industrialization and structures have marred to beauty of the mountains from which the city was built up - a cool reflection of the violation of nature just as the girl in the story had been violated and her life lost by the perpetuator setting her on fire.
The film premieres at New York City’s Quad Cinema on May the 19th followed by additional markets. No news on the release in Canada yet.