The 2012 Tribeca Film Festival is fast approaching, with its first full day of films on April 19th. As the fest has done in the past, they will be showing some of the films through VOD in addition to their theatrical screenings during the fest. Starting on April 17th, you can see the insanely exciting, entertaining, and tense crime thriller Sleepless Night (Nuit Blanche) directed by Frédéric Jardin on VOD through Tribeca Film. For those who do not live in NYC or will not be coming in for the fest, this is a great way to experience superb indie films wherever you are. Onto some thoughts on Sleepless Night.
The film follows one of my new favorite actors, Tomer Sisley, who plays the lead role of Vincent, a well respected police officer that gets himself entangled in the criminal underworld after taking a chance with his partner. They take drugs from one of the crime world’s kingpins, Marciano, played with a robust humor and power by Serge Riaboukine. Vincent is relentlessly pursuing his son, who has been kidnapped by Marciano, while they are all being pursued by two other eager detectives, Lancombe, brought to life boundlessly by Julien Boisselier, and Vignali, powerfully, passionately, and willfully portrayed by Lizzie Brocheré. The triangulation and intersection of their paths come mostly within a nightclub that serves the filmmakers well in creating a confined tension the viewer cannot escape.
It was like one of those new roller coasters that use magnets to accelerate the ride from a standstill to a furious speed in the blink of an eye. You remember the old days of roller coasters where it took time to get the train up to speed, well, none of that here as the pace is skillfully managed from frame one, keenly knowing when to speed up, to slow down for a moment, and then continue the frenetic pacing that relentlessly pulls the viewer to the edge of their seat. And if you think Bruce Willis gets pounded mercilessly in the Die Hard flicks, wait until you see the beatdowns both taken and dished out by all the main players, most notably Brocheré and Sisley who clearly have what it takes to be huge action stars.
The nature of independent productions makes creating an action thriller like Sleepless Night a monumental achievement that cannot be overstated. Masterfully conceived and shot car chases, massive destruction of a club, fight after fight after fight, all elements that can often come off contrived even in a giant blockbuster flick, but do not in Sleepless Night, instead feeling authentic, pointed, and of high production value. The film’s aesthetics are always appropriate to the narrative and action, perfectly lighting each carefully considered camera angle, using the distance to the subject and a variety of camera moves to heighten the action experience in a way Hollywood would be well served to study.
But it’s not just about the action, as the cast delivers a dark, comedic tone through both their dialogue and physicality, manifested many ways such as their sometimes, let’s say quirkiness (speaking vaguely to not spoil these hysterical elements). This buoyant and pointed humor allows for intermittent breaths among the heart pounding action, which elevates the film beyond a pure adrenaline charged thriller into a sublime space where the viewers can be a part of the film’s world and immerse themselves in it despite its intense, violent nature.
This film’s greatness should come as no surprise, as the French have always been among the preeminent masters of the crime thriller, and Jardin carries on that strong tradition here, honoring himself and his team with a film that is exactly what film festivals need more of: entertaining, poignant, exciting films.
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2012 Tribeca Film Festival
Sleepless Night (Nuit Blanche)
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