Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
First Official Image: Andrew Garfield In Martin Scorsese's 'Silence' First Official Image: Andrew Garfield In Martin Scorsese's 'Silence' Joss Whedon Shot An Alternate ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ Ending Where [Redacted] Doesn’t Die & Much More Joss Whedon Shot An Alternate ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ Ending Where [Redacted] Doesn’t Die & Much More First Look: Adam Driver, Lupita Nyong’o, And More In 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' First Look: Adam Driver, Lupita Nyong’o, And More In 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' First Look: Harley Quinn & The Entire 'Suicide Squad' Cast In Full Costume First Look: Harley Quinn & The Entire 'Suicide Squad' Cast In Full Costume Director Josh Trank Reportedly Fired From His ‘Star Wars’ Film For “Erratic" Behavior On The ‘Fantastic Four’ Set Director Josh Trank Reportedly Fired From His ‘Star Wars’ Film For “Erratic" Behavior On The ‘Fantastic Four’ Set Robert Downey Jr. Trashes Indie Moviemaking, Fires Back Over Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Superhero Diss Robert Downey Jr. Trashes Indie Moviemaking, Fires Back Over Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Superhero Diss 8 Westerns Not Set In The Old West 8 Westerns Not Set In The Old West First Look: Clear Photos Of Ben Affleck In Costume From 'Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice' First Look: Clear Photos Of Ben Affleck In Costume From 'Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Kristen Stewart Says "Hollywood Is Disgustingly Sexist," Questions When Actresses Decide To Go Nude Kristen Stewart Says "Hollywood Is Disgustingly Sexist," Questions When Actresses Decide To Go Nude Warner Bros' DC Comics' Franchise Is Reportedly A Big Movie Universe Without A Clear Leader Warner Bros' DC Comics' Franchise Is Reportedly A Big Movie Universe Without A Clear Leader Data On Netflix Original Programming Reveals Everyone Is Watching 'Daredevil,' Not Tuning Into 'Bloodline' Data On Netflix Original Programming Reveals Everyone Is Watching 'Daredevil,' Not Tuning Into 'Bloodline' Rumor: Asa Butterfield Is The Frontrunner To Play Marvel's Spider-Man Rumor: Asa Butterfield Is The Frontrunner To Play Marvel's Spider-Man Ranked: All The Characters Of The Marvel Cinematic Universe Ranked: All The Characters Of The Marvel Cinematic Universe Marion Cotillard, Léa Seydoux, Vincent Cassel & More To Star In Xavier Dolan's Next Film 'Only The End Of The World' Marion Cotillard, Léa Seydoux, Vincent Cassel & More To Star In Xavier Dolan's Next Film 'Only The End Of The World' Cannes: New Images From 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender And Marion Cotillard Cannes: New Images From 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender And Marion Cotillard New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season Best To Worst: Every Marvel Movie Ranked Best To Worst: Every Marvel Movie Ranked

Fantastic Fest Review: 'Sleepless Night' A Deceptively Simple Thriller That Packs A Punch

The Playlist By Todd Gilchrist | The Playlist September 29, 2011 at 3:59AM

Containment thrillers can often be limited by the landscape of their locale, but in the French film “Sleepless Night,” the nightclub where corrupt cop Vincent (Tomer Sisley) races to rescue his son is expansive enough to make it seem like a mini-mall. Writer-director Frederic Jardin somehow manages to squeeze every last drop of claustrophobia from the massive, multilevel building, even after he’s filled it wall-to-wall with clubgoers, diners, socialites, and especially the odd assortment of cops and crooks who all have a stake in Vincent’s future. Although it’s quite deservedly scheduled for an American remake via the folks at Warner Brothers, “Sleepless Night” is the kind of entertainment that requires little translation to succeed, as its characters and story are so cleanly and cleverly designed that they would work in virtually any language.
0


Containment thrillers can often be limited by the landscape of their locale, but in the French film “Sleepless Night,” the nightclub where corrupt cop Vincent (Tomer Sisley) races to rescue his son is expansive enough to make it seem like a mini-mall. Writer-director Frederic Jardin somehow manages to squeeze every last drop of claustrophobia from the massive, multilevel building, even after he’s filled it wall-to-wall with clubgoers, diners, socialites, and especially the odd assortment of cops and crooks who all have a stake in Vincent’s future. Although it’s quite deservedly scheduled for an American remake via the folks at Warner Brothers, “Sleepless Night” is the kind of entertainment that requires little translation to succeed, as its characters and story are so cleanly and cleverly designed that they would work in virtually any language.

The majority of the action in “Sleepless Night” is fallout from the botched drug heist that opens the film: Vincent and his partner Manuel (Laurent Stocker) successfully steal a duffel bag full of cocaine from local mobster Marciano (Serge Riaboukine), but not before one of their victims stabs Vincent and gets away. Even with a notoriously tenacious Internal Affairs officer named Lacombe (Julien Boisselier) after them, they’re not worried, but when Marciano kidnaps Vincent’s son Thomas (Samy Seghir), Vincent agrees to cut his losses and return the loot. Shortly after he arrives at Maricano’s palatial nightclub, however, Vincent is spotted by rookie cop Alex (Dominique Bettenfeld), who moves his stash and alerts her boss, Lacombe.


When he returns to his hiding spot to discover that the drugs are gone, Vincent quickly hatches a tenuous escape plan, using the club’s resources to hide himself until he can determine Thomas’ whereabouts. But as Lacombe and Alex close in on him, and one of Marciano’s colleagues shows up demanding the drugs, Vincent finds himself in a desperate race to rescue his son and save both of their lives.

“Sleepless Night” is the sort of action thriller that’s deceptively simple – at its most basic it's about a guy trying to get out of a nightclub alive – but director Jardin, along with co-writer Nicholas Saarda, make you really, really care about that guy, and then populate the rest of the cast with characters who are equally interesting, and most importantly, whose actions make that single-sentence conceit something much more complex. Although the first time we see Vincent, he’s sticking up a couple of baddies for their drugs, the stab wound he sustains immediately informs us that he’s no superhero, and it continues to affect him as he encounters more and more complications in what was meant to be a fairly routine robbery. But more than that, his very plight – to rescue his son, at all costs – humanizes him in a way that, well, if it doesn’t quite excuse his bad behavior, it at least tempers it with some degree of relatability.

Meanwhile, he also has quite a rogue’s gallery of adversaries, each of whom, in the best possible way, makes Vincent a more interesting character. Marciano is at once a hotheaded gangster, ruthless and violent, but he’s also got a little bit of culture, and he seems to sincerely care for his own family, which is actually a little bit of why he kidnaps Thomas: he understands the motivational value of seeing someone you care about endangered. Not only does this propel the plot forward, it develops Vincent’s character, as he is forced to confront his own negligence as a father, and make appropriate efforts to repair that relationship – failure to do which might result in the admittedly dramatic prospect of death.

On the other hand, there’s Lacombe, who we soon discover is himself crooked, and who plans to double-cross Vincent for his share of the drugs, Thomas’ safety be damned. But while he’s a villain from the pure perspective of the story’s focus on Vincent, Alex manages to provide a counterbalance in that she’s smart, honest and well-intentioned, but in a way that actually makes things worse for everyone involved. Or perhaps more accurately, her efforts up the stakes of Vincent’s efforts to rescue his son, and help steer the plot towards a truly exciting, and meaningful finale.

Then, of course, there’s the nightclub itself, which we're loath to describe as another character in the film, although its layout certainly has more personality than most movie settings. This is true primarily because the rooms, both public and private, are at once sprawling and claustrophobic, which allows the filmmakers to stay self-contained but not become repetitive, creating a familiar landscape that slowly reminds us where we are, and where we want to be. But as a whole, “Sleepless Night” is not unlike its central location in that it’s less uniquely designed than just extremely well-crafted, combining a variety of familiar ideas into one cohesive, streamlined and supremely effective effort. [B+]

This article is related to: Review, Fantastic Fest


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates