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  Sleepless Night InsomniactiveBuy this film here.
Year: 2011
Director: Frédéric Jardin
Stars: Tomer Sisley, Serge Riaboukine, Julien Boisselier, Joey Starr, Laurent Stoker, Birol Ünel, Lizzie Brocheré, Samy Seghir, Dominique Bettenfeld, Adel Bencherif, Catalina Denis, Pom Klementieff, Vincent Bersoulle, Olivier Massart, Cécile Boland
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Vincent (Tomer Sisley) is a cop, and cops are supposed to uphold the law, but maybe he doesn't think that applies to himself so much as this morning he is in his car with his police partner Manuel (Laurent Stoker), following another car with a view to stopping it. Not because they are acting as part of their job, but because they are well aware it contains criminals carrying a batch of cocaine that is worth a heck of a lot of money, and that is precisely what the cops want, so armed with light firearms they send it screeching to a halt and order the men out with the bag of drugs. However, these criminals are reluctant to give up their prize, and in the ensuing scuffle one is shot and Vincent is stabbed...

Sometimes a thriller can be inspiring, as happened with writer and director Frédéric Jardin's Sleepless Night, or Nuit Blanche as it was known in its original French. It can inspire other filmmakers to conjure up something similar, in this case a gritty, slick action piece that adhered to a certain realism in its presentation, or it can bring about what happened here, with no less than two remakes in quick succession appearing, including a Hollywood one starring Jamie Foxx for those who didn't like subtitles but did like substandard versions of material that had been done pretty well in the first place, only in a language they didn't understand. The purists stuck with the original incarnation.

What was good about this was that Jardin was not about to tie himself in knots justifying why these events were taking place: though the plot had its twists, it was a fairly straightforward affair that knew it wanted to deliver on the action, and made those sequences where Vincent got into fistfights or gun battles the whole reason for making the movie. He used everything at his disposal to make this as convincing in its own little world as possible, so this was not a thriller that ignored that modern inconvenience to thriller creators the mobile phone, it embraced the technology and made it both an obstacle and a lifeline to its shady protagonist's goal of rescuing his kidnapped son Thomas (Samy Seghir).

The teen is spirited away when the gangsters, led by crime boss Marciano (Serge Riaboukine) decide to use him as a bargaining chip to persuade his father to hand over what he has stolen from them - a running joke has Vincent's ex-wife continually calling him to ask where the boy is. The location turns out to be a swanky, and apparently massive, nightclub, which he must infiltrate to recapture his son and get away with the coke, something far easier said than done when Marciano has a small army of employees who are willing to defend their boss's property, and the lead in to a series of brutal combat sequences which although they went on far too long to convince as authentic, had the bonus of offering a truly cinematic sense of close quarters spectacle and raised the stakes for the not entirely sympathetic hero.

If indeed he could be described as a hero, for he was established early on as a soul who needed redeeming at the very least, and his love for his son, which he never expected would be in play in his lawbreaking career of corruption, is used both against him by the hoods and for him by the boy who wants to believe his dad genuinely can be the hero. Also in the mix was an internal affairs woman, Vignali (Lizzie Brocheré), who tails Vincent through the club and manages to mess up his hastily formulating schemes by, for example stealing back the bag of narcotics from its hiding place in the men's toilets which necessitates his filling plastic bags with flour from the kitchen (!) to attempt to fool Marciano before tracking down the real thing himself. Jardin came up with a bunch of clever ways to make life extremely difficult for him, more or less punishing him but also offering a lifeline of redemption, and the limited space most of the movie played out in added a tension born from claustrophobia and proximity to the bad guys (or even worse guys). Maybe not a classic, but you could see why this appealed to the Eurocrime fans. Music by Nicolas Errèra.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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