Film Review: November

FIFTY+SA Arts Reviewer, Dave Bradley, shares his thoughts on November (M) directed by Cédric Jimenez.

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”.

November (M) is now playing at cinemas.

4 out of 5 STARS


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