Thursday, June 4, 2015


Greenbelt 3 Cinemas

This film is based on actual events which occurred in the late 1970s in Oise, Northern France. The police force is baffled after several women are murdered by a serial killer. But the perpetrator just happens to be a police officer who is also part of the group investigating these murders.

Franck Neuhart (Guillaume Canet) is a shy police officer who lives a solitary life. He has no friends, lives in a dingy apartment. Yet he is a dedicated and diligent law enforcer and the film doesn't offer any real explanation for his lunacy. Leading a double life, he turns into a cold blooded killer, tracking young girls and shooting them for no apparent reason. 

After each killing, he hurts himself (perhaps to 'atone' for his crime) by submerging in an ice filled bath tub, self flagellation or wrapping barbed wire around his arms. Quite disturbing yet it conforms to the dark theme of the film.

The bleak film is a bit dragging in its latter stages after a few suspenseful scenes have elapsed. It also puts the police in a bad light since it is strictly due to their ineptitude that they are unable to catch the serial killer who was right in front of their noses. As a killer, Neuhart is cunning and cautious. Surely, there might have been times he was careless yet as an investigator he doesn't really go out of his way to hide 'evidence. Granted that during that period, the gathering of forensic evidence was not hi tech especially in a small town like Oise but still it is puzzling it took them over a year to arrest him. 

The only redeeming value of this strange film is the brilliantly convincing performance of its lead actor, Guillaume Canet. The ex husband of German actress Diane Kruger and the current partner of French actress Marion Cotillard looks like a younger version of American actor Patrick Dempsey. As Neuhart, his boyish face hardly expresses any emotions. Stoic yet very calculating. His calm demeanor is very creepy as his contained anger can just spin out of control, out of the blue. Alain Lamare, the real police officer upon whom this story is based is still incarcerated in a psychiatric ward.

The film starts with a disclaimer which states: "This film is based on one of the most strange French criminal stories. The facts described here are, for a large extent, taken from official documents, statements and talks with concerned people." Unfortunately despite this pronouncement, the film did not further delve into the psyche of the serial killer and it fell flat in trying to sustain the suspense factor to capture the viewers short attention span.

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