By Marie-Louise Gumuchian
LONDON (Reuters) – Crime dramas usually end with the culprit being caught, but French film “La Nuit du 12” (“The Night of the 12th”) looks instead at how an unsolved murder takes its toll on the police investigator trying to solve it.
Inspired by a real-life case described in Pauline Guéna’s book “18.3 – une année à la PJ” (“18.3 – A Year With the Crime Squad”), the film begins with the brutal murder of young woman Clara. Police investigator Yohan Vivès takes on the case, and while he digs into her life and interrogates suspect after suspect, he gets no closer to finding Clara’s killer.
“When you have a crime story, you have the crime and then … the public wants the criminal at the end,” director Dominik Moll told Reuters.
“The fact that it was unresolved, I felt that it allowed to … put the focus on other things, be it on the police procedural work itself, or on the journey of the main investigator Yohan, and how he evolves and what that non-resolution does to him.”
At the core of the movie, which last month won best film and best director for Moll at France’s Cesar Awards, is the relationship between men and women.
“When we started to work on the screenplay … we quickly felt that because it was a femicide and because it was the murder of a young woman that men’s violence and the relationship of men and women would be a theme or a part of the film that we had to explore as well,” he said.
“What we also wanted to question was the fact that the police is still … mostly an all-male world and as the young policewoman says at the end (of the film), isn’t it strange that almost all the violence is committed by men and then it’s mostly men who investigate on it.”
One key scene sees character Nanie confront Yohan about repeatedly questioning her about her friend Clara’s ex-partners.
“When it turns out that (female victims) had an active sexual life or multiple partners … then immediately the thought comes up that they might be a little bit responsible for it … which is completely crazy,” Moll said.
“It shows that even in our advanced western societies there is still a problem with how the sexuality of women is perceived by men and even by other women.”
Set in the Alps, the film premiered at last year’s Cannes Film Festival and has been praised by critics and audiences.
“We also got feedback … especially from women … about how the film had given them strength and they thanked us, as guys tackling such a subject,” Moll said.
“For me, that is more important than the Cesar Awards, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not nice (to have won awards).”
“The Night of the 12th” is released in UK cinemas on Friday.
(Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by David Holmes)
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Source: The Print