The popularity of crime drama is endless. There are a plethora of series and films about detectives, cops, investigators, etc. but I have to say this one by Dominik Moll is not your typical by-the-numbers procedural drama. La nuit du 12 starts with a retirement party of a veteran cop who hands his reign to a younger officer Yohan (Bastien Bouillon). Yohan’s first case in his new role is a grisly murder of a young woman, Clara (Lula Cotton-Frapier), in a small town in the Alps.
While the initial investigation seems pretty standard, the more the narrative unfolds, a key theme of toxic masculinity emerges, not just concerning the all-male suspects of the case but also the five officers doing the investigation. A notable conversation between the lead cop and the victim’s best friend confronts a disturbing trend in many cases of violent crimes against women. That is, the misogynistic presumption that these women deserve the calamity that befallen them because they choose to get involved with bad boys.
Based on a book by Pauline Guéna that’s adapted to the screen by Moll and Gilles Marchand, beneath the criminal investigation core of the story, there are plenty of layers to unpack. Conversations between Yohan’s teammates reveal the cavalier nature as well as the fragility of human relationships… a few of them make fun of a young cop who plans to wed his girlfriend after less than a year together, while Yohan’s partner Marceau (Bouli Lanners) confides that he’s having a marital crisis that ends up affecting his job. There’s even an unexpected commentary about how intimacy in today’s society has become inconsequential.
Now, fans of whodunnit mystery naturally await the payoff at the end, but the film’s logline already tells us that this is a crime that haunts the investigator more than any others. It implies that we ought not to expect to find a neatly satisfying ending, which is actually a realistic depiction of a lot of crime cases that unfortunately never get solved. The repeated cycling scene inside the velodrome is a discernible metaphor for how the team just goes in circles like a hamster, as Marceau points out, even as they interview one lead after another. As Yohan is haunted by Clara’s case, I too find this harrowing tale hard to shake.
Moll has crafted a taut, engrossing film that astutely delves into the psyche of the people trying to solve the case. I found this article after watching the film that says the film resonates with the #MeToo movement given its empathetic take on women’s issues and point of view. Even the largely male cast is to make a point about the male-dominated industry of law enforcement. Yet the women featured in the film play integral roles despite their relatively brief appearances, especially the persistent magistrate in the third act, played by Anouk Grinberg. Perhaps it helps that despite having a male director, most of the film’s producers are women.
It’s no surprise that The Night of the 12th swept the French’s César this year, winning six awards including Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and acting wins for Bouillon for lead and Lanners for supporting actor. It definitely earns a spot in my best films of the year so far, hopefully, it’ll make its way to the Oscars race next year, too.
The Night of the 12th will be screening again at The Main Theatre, Minneapolis
on Apr 21st – 9:40 PM » Get Your Tickets!
14 thoughts on “#MSPIFF42 Review: The Night Of the 12th (2023) – taut and engrossing, not your typical by-the-numbers crime drama”
Just added it to the ever-growing watchlist.
Awesome! Yeah, the beauty of covering an International film festival is you get to see gems like this before it’s released. Going to see two movies today and one of them is Flamin’ Hot by Eva Longoria, which is a story about Hot Cheetos!
Hey Flixy! This must be REALLY good, I rarely see a rating from you this high (4.5). This will certainly go on my watchlist now too. Thanks for covering the MSPIFF again this year.
Yes indeed it’s VERY good, Becky. You’re right I rarely give such a high rating but this film deserved it. It’s been great covering MSPIFF in person again after 2-years of Covid.
P.S. Hope you are well, gotta catch up soon!
Definitely adding this to my watch list! I just saw another crime drama that I really enjoyed – To Catch A Killer, and this sounds like I’d enjoy it too!
Oh I’m curious about To Catch A Killer, but haven’t got time yet as I’m covering MSPIFF. If you like crime dramas, then you should definitely watch this one.
Will keep my eyes out for this one.. I found your DM and responded a few weeks ago..hope you got it & all is well!
Hey Peggy! I saw your reply, sorry been swamped with covering MSPIFF until next week, but yeah I’m up for catching up over Zoom again soon!
This sounds very interesting, I’ll give it a watch when it hits streaming service. I’ve been watching lots of French films on Netflix. Lol!
Hey Ted, that’s cool that you’ve been watching a lot of French films on Netflix, any one you’d recommend?
This one is really good! Not much in the way of action but still very gripping and captivating nonetheless.
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