- Colin Fraser
THREE AND A HALF STARS Terrorists strike in the heart of Paris, killing over 160 people. An unprecedented manhunt ensues.
DRAMA France French #NOVEMBER
Starring Jean Dujardin, Sandrine Kiberlain
NOVEMBER opens in the wake of coordinated terrorist attacks on Paris, an orgy of death whose centrepiece was a mass shooting at a rock concert in The Bataclan Theatre in 2015. 130 people lost their lives, over 400 were injured and thousands more directly affected. ISIS would later claim responsibility.
This incredibly tense film by Cédric Jimenez’s (you’ll be surprised by how long he can make you hold your breath) follows investigations by the country's anti-terror squad as they hunt down the perpetrators. The indefatigable Jean Dujardin (THE ARTIST) leads his team on an unprecedented manhunt.
NOVEMBER is a fairly familiar police procedural that has much in common with any number of Hollywood ‘recreations’. The difference here is that this isn’t Hollywood and blockbusters are something of a rarity in European cinema. It lends the film an invigorating sense of originality and with it, tension. While the filmmakers assert that this is a work of fiction, an adaptation of real events, you can be confident it doesn't stray far from truth which only adds to the suspense.
It’s tight, efficient and the kind of film that grabs you by the scruff of the neck. But what really distinguishes NOVEMBER from the canon is its sense of authenticity as Jimenez keeps our focus on the task of routing out the perpetrators. Acknowledging that the film is not short on sensational or dramatic tension, he never sensationalises or over-dramatises to cater to audience expectation. He doesn’t give in to the cliché of cutting back to ‘worried partner watching TV at home’ for instance. There’s no time for that.
Consequently, as Dujardin and his team fight to stop the terrorists in their tracks, we’re in there with them to the bitter end. For everyone it is an overwhelming, thrilling, frightening, exhausting and, yes, breathtaking experience.