There seems to be a general consensus that seven is the magic number of years to pass before a calamity can be appraised through film. In 2018, both Berlin and Venice had films about the 2011 Norway attacks in their respective main competitions. Earlier this year the drama about the Bataclan massacre One Year, One Night premiered at the Berlinale, where it was nominated for a Golden Bear. Now another film about Paris’s tragic night of November 13th 2015 is invited into Cannes’s line-up, where it is screened out of competition.
Whereas One Year, One Night’s approach was about overcoming, November is a fast-paced police procedural about the ensuing investigation by France’s National Intelligence and the infamous shootout of the Saint-Denis raid.
November is filled with high-calibre French talent: Academy Award-winner Jean Dujardin, Sandrine Kiberlain and Anaïs Demoustier make up the counter-terrorist unit’s most vital players. But even smaller members of the team are played by familiar faces such as Call Me by Your Name’s Victoire Du Bois and Raphaël Quenard, who seems to have the Midas touch: all of his latest feature films have made it into the festival this year (Final Cut and Smoking Causes Coughing being the other two). Unfortunately with its focus on exposition, this is not the type of film that allows its actors to truly display their range.
The audience is with the off-duty agents when they receive the news of the attacks, either while they are jogging, or out drinking and watching the international friendly against German that famously transmitted the sound of the bombs going off at the stadium to television viewers across Europe. This sequence at the beginning of the film, set to a David Bowie song, gives a somewhat misleading personal touch to the feature and its characters, which is absent for most of what follows. Their task is to find the two perpetrators who did not die at the scene of the attacks, and the film’s plot renders itself entirely subservient to the manhunt, until a civilian becomes a vital informant. At this point the humanity returns to the characters and their interactions, but it may come too late for viewers to relate.
Director Cédric Jimenez delivers on suspense and action, but falls short on emotional engagement.
November (Novembre) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2022 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.