WORDS: Dave Bradley, Arts Reviewer
Co-writer/director Cédric Jimenez’s cautious, slightly controversial depiction of the five days that followed the terrorist attacks in Paris back in November 2015 is seriously powerful despite a fair few problems, notably including the sneaking suspicion that an awful lot here is fictionalised. But of course it is: like several plot points from Zero Dark Thirty and even United 93, many of the original facts must remain classified.
Investigator Fred (Jean Dujardin, no longer a name in the States) is a key figure here, as we see him fail to capture a terrorist in Athens and then, after the bombs and murders back home, become almost scarily obsessed with apprehending the culprits. Director Jimenez also doesn’t show us the violence: we see the horror in the eyes of the police, hear a frenzy of ringing phones, and endure a little jiggly camerawork.
And we don’t need to as well, because surely staging it would be expensive, sensationalistic and disrespectful.
Fred is onscreen a lot here, but Dujardin is very nearly upstaged by Lyna Khoudri as fearful informant ‘Samia’ (not her real name). Indeed, the real ‘Samia’ sued the production about her onscreen depiction – and won – and yet, nevertheless, Lyna is hauntingly good.
A popular offering at this year’s French Film Festival, this is one of the year’s best movies so far, no matter how much of what we see is actually, ahem, “real”.