WHO KILLED BAMBI? (Qui a tué Bambi?)

(director/writer: Gilles Marchand; screenwriter: Vincent Dietschy; cinematographer: Pierre Milon; editor: Robin Campillo; music: Doc Matéo, Alex Beaupin, Lily Margot and François Eudes; cast: Sophie Quinton (Isabelle/Bambi), Laurent Lucas (Dr. Philipp), Catherine Jacob (Véronique), Yasmine Belmadi (Sami), Michèle Moretti (Ms. Vachon), Valérie Donzelli (Nathalie); Runtime: 121; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Caroline Benjo/Carole Scotta; Strand Releasing; 2003-France-in French with English subtitles)

“The melodrama acts as an anaesthetic, as it’s hard to stay awake while it operates merely as a gruesome style over substance film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Gilles Marchand, who co-wrote the scripts for Human Resources and With a Friend Like Harry…, makes his directorial debut with a less than memorable hokum thriller; he co-wrote Who Killed Bambi? with Vincent Dietschy. The good premise film has trainee nurse Isabelle (Sophie Quinton) not only troubled assisting in operations and about her own operation for an inner-ear imbalance due to a condition known as Cooper Syndrome, but she suspects respected workaholic surgeon Dr. Philipp (Laurent Lucas) of fondling post-op patients at night, being a serial rapist, robbing the patient’s valuable possessions and of replacing with a syringe anaesthetic drugs with a diluted substitute so he can give his vics knockout hypos at night when no else seems to be around and not care that the replacements are not adequate substitutes.

By the halfway point things go downhill, leaving us with a creepy, arrogant and sinister Dr. Philipp giving us the chills at how vulnerable the patient is to malevolent hospital personnel. The heroine student nurse, nicknamed Bambi by her antagonist after she has dizzy spells, has become the evil doctor’s victim and nemesis. Why the nurse doesn’t inform the authorities is only one of the problems the film has, as it loses its grip on reality and the beautiful setup, bringing about a chilling antiseptic atmosphere, only ends up drawing us into the realm of hospital thriller genre clichés, becoming increasingly clunky, sustaining no suspense because we know from the onset who the villain is and, as the malfeasance begins to pile up, the pic starts making less and less sense on how it deals with it in a believable way.

The acting is not solid, but the blame lies mainly with the inadequate script and the by-the-numbers flat direction by Marchand. The melodrama acts as an anesthetic, as it’s hard to stay awake while it operates merely as a gruesome style over substance film. It never has enough going for it to be a compelling psychological thriller, as it instead remains antiseptic under the glare of its hospital fluorescent bulbs and tries to get over by playing on our fears we have of hospitals; such as, losing control to those who can play God with our lives.

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