(director/writer: Dominik Moll; screenwriters: Gilles Marchand/based on a true-crime book by Pauline Guéna; cinematographer: Patrick Ghiringhelli; editor: Laurent Rouan; music: Olivier Marguerit; cast: Bastien Bouillon (Le capitaine Yohan Vives), Bouli Lanners (Marceau), Théo Cholbi (Willy), Johann Dionnet (Fred), Thibaut Evrard (Loic), Camille Rutherford (Nathalie Bardot), David Murgia (Mats), Lula Cotton-Frapier (Clara Royer), Julien Frison (Boris), Paul Jeanson (Jerome), Pauline Serieys (Stephanie Beguin dite Nanie), Mouna Soualem (Nadia), Anouk Grinberg (La juge d’instruction), Charline Paul (Madame Royer), Benjamin Blanchy (Denis Douet), Pierre Lottin (Vincent Caron), Matthieu Rozé (Mr. Royer), Jules Porier (Jules Leroy), Baptiste Perais (Wesley Fontana); Runtime: 114; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Caroline Benjo, Barbara Letellier, Carole Scotta; A Film Movement release; 2022-France-in French with English subtitles)

“Though the criminal act was lurid the film wasn’t.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The French Thriller Won the César for Best Picture.

The gripping procedural crime drama, somewhat fictionalized, is directed by French filmmaker Dominik Moll (“Only The Animals”/”The Monk”) and co-written by him and Gilles Marchand. It’s based on a true-crime book, “Une année à la P” by Pauline Guéna.

The ambitious newly appointed chief of the detectives squad, in Grenoble, Yohan Vives (
Bastien Bouillon), has a real bummer for his first case as chief, the brutal murder of a 21-year-old woman named Clara Royer (Lula Cotton-Frapier), who was approached on a suburban street by a stranger who poured kerosene over her and set her on fire, as she ran down the street in flames screaming. Clara had a past history of being sexually active.

The captain is assisted in his investigation by his more emotional veteran partner Marceau (
Bouli Lanners), a cop plagued by marital woes. The male cops interview all the deadbeat men they find who had prior contact with the victim and believe capable of such a violent crime. But a few weeks go by with no arrests.

The filmmaker points out that the all-male squad room has a sexist attitude to the case, which indicates a problem with the investigation.

The cops also have no luck searching for a motive. Clara’s
friend Nanie (Pauline Serieys) simplifies things for us by saying the reason for the crime is simple, it was “because she was a girl”.

The film sets a bleak mood. Though the criminal act was lurid the film wasn’t, as it tries to see why more than 20% of the murder cases in France go unsolved.

It hopefully indicates the Times are Changing for the better, as a woman, Nadia (Mouna Soualem), has recently joined the squad and a female judge is also taking an interest in ways a male judge never would.

REVIEWED ON 5/14/2023  GRADE: B-