DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: TIFF 2011 - Sleepless Night

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

TIFF 2011 - Sleepless Night

Sleepless night (2011) dir Frederic Jardin
Starring: Tomer Sisley, Joey Starr, Julien Boisselier, Laurent Stocker, Birol Unel


By Alan Bacchus

Bad ass Turkish, Caribbean and Corsican bad guys and a team of slimy IA agents battling a tough-as-nails French cop in one slammin' nightclub over a dozen kilos of coke makes for one sleepless night. Hence the title of this crazy-intense French thriller, which lays a trump card over those Luc Besson thrillers.

We're thrown into a hyperactive heist to open this film, and when accompanied by a cool crackerjack music cue reminiscent of The Dark Knight, we're immediately in the mood for action. The chase sets up the conundrum of our hero, Vincent, who seemingly has stolen a bag full of coke from a very bad Corsican gangster, Jose Marciano. Little does he know that he was identified by some other corrupt cops secretly working for Marciano. Vincent arrives home to find his son kidnapped and held as ransom for the dope at Marciano's nightclub. But when an intrepid internal affairs agent steals the bag, Vincent is forced to improvise. It becomes a long night of close-quarters action, aggressive dealings, fistfights and chases all in virtually real time.

Under the wicked lensing of Clint Eastwood's DP Tom Stern, it's as stone cold slick as Michael Mann's roster and as shake-tastically intense as a Paul Greengrass film. It's certainly not Eastwood's staid style at play here, as Stern instead employs a high energy agile camera that bobs and weaves through the throngs of party goers drinking and dancing to the music in the club.

The thumping beat echoes through almost every foot of the film, sometimes droning in the background when the characters are in the bathroom and at other times beating loud and strong when the action moves onto the dance floor.

The preposterousness of the plotting sometimes fails the picture. Arguably it loses some steam in the second half, but the film is utterly realistic. We can practically feel the sweat, smoke and dry ice in the club. Vincent's stakes, his young boy, are genuine and his love for his son fuels a strong emotional core.

This is the kind of movie that action stalwarts Walter Hill, William Friedkin and Michael Mann did so well in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Jardin matches these expert filmmakers almost to the letter.

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