(director/writer: Frédéric Mermoud; screenwriter: Pascal Arnold; cinematographer: Thomas Hardmeier; editor: Sarah Anderson; music: Grégoire Hetzel; cast: Gilbert Melki (Hervé Cagan), Emmanuelle Devos (Karine Mangin), Cyril Descours (Vincent Bouvier), Jeremy Kapone (Thomas), Nina Meurisse (Rebecca Legendre), Marc Rioufol(Tardieu), (Yves Cagan), Jean-Pierre Sanchez (Karim), Yeelem Jappain (Belen), Joana Preiss (Mrs.Legendre); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Tonie Marshall/Damien Couvreur; Sundance/Pyramide; 2009-France/Switzerland-in French with English subtitles)

too much touchy-feely sentiments.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

French TV director Frédéric Mermoud presents a touchy-feely downbeat crime drama framed around intersecting the parallel stories of troubled teen lovers and of lonely detective partners in their forties. It’s co-written by the director and Pascal Arnold, with an agenda to show that doing things by the book is not always the just way.

Hervé Cagan (Gilbert Melki) and Karine Mangin (Emmanuelle Devos) are the lead investigators of a grisly murder case, as the strangled and beaten body of teenager male prostitute, Vincent Bouvier (Cyril Descours), is fished up from the Rhone and his high school student girlfriend Rebecca (Nina Meurisse) is missing.

The back story on the slick well-built 18-year-old mobile home dweller and scooter riding Vincent is told in flashback. We soon learn that he works for a male prostitution ring run by his pimp and former lover Thomas (Jeremy Kapone). They get clients through the Internet. In a cyberspace cafe Vincent surprisingly picks up the frumpy, overweight and plain looking Rebecca and when they become tight because of their emotional needs, he finally tells her his true occupation and convinces her to be his partner in threesomes. When she’s physically abused by sicko eye surgeon client Tardieu (Marc Rioufol), Vincent can’t let it go and blackmails him. This turns out to be a bad decision, that leads to an outpouring of violence.

The cops take a long time before solving the crime, and this gives us a chance to see how these lonely middle-aged careerists have unhappy personal lives as singles. Hervé acts sour, uncommitted to relationships and regularly dines alone at a sushi restaurant, while Karine goes on bad dates procured from an Internet dating site. We are constantly reminded the cops are just as lonely, insecure and screwed up as the kids, but because Vincent has chosen such a dangerous and illegal profession he meets with tragedy.

Things are not that exciting until the twisty climax, where the tension mounts over the fate of Rebecca. It depicts how Hervé gets all paternal about the pregnant Rebecca’s fate, and remembers in his youth he was a shit and abandoned his pregnant teenage girlfriend and now wants to do the right thing for Rebecca–who is finally located hiding in the apartment of her girlfriend Belen (Yeelem Jappain).

It was well-presented and the acting was not bad. But it was too much a French pic, with too much touchy-feely sentiments, characters who never quite caught my interest and a contrived story that never could find much depth.