Frédéric Jardin’s Sleepless Night (Nuit Blanche) tells the tale of Vincent, a police officer with unknown loyalties who after being identified in the botched theft of a gang leader’s next delivery is forced to reveal his secret life as he fights to save his son.
Set predominantly in a French nightclub; Sleepless Nights is an archetypal French thriller akin to Point Blank or The Prophet; as only Jardin’s second major feature and produced on a small budget Sleepless Nights is a relative success and surpassed my expectations by some way.
Having reportedly taken the role immediately after reading the script Tomer Sisley gives a commanding performance as Vincent and is beaten, bloodied and bruised through his journey by a strong supporting cast.
The action sequences are fierce and realistic with Sisley insisting on performing his own stunts in what turns out to be performance making decision. With no restrictions on camera positioning with no need to hide any faces or make adjustments for stunt doubles Jardin is given real freedom to create picture perfect shots. The versatility and beauty of this is shown best in one of the biggest fight scenes in the nightclubs kitchen. Jardin didn’t design this scene for the action audience and this is apparent from the onset. It is far more realistic and features little of the exaggerated violence and human abilities seen in popular action. This is a growing feature in French thriller, but in this scene Jardin has undoubtedly created something awe inspiring.
As a whole this feature is far from award winning. It has some questionable dialogue and the acting isn’t outstanding throughout; but with glimpses of magic and some unique camera work and directorship Sleepless Night is well worth watching and one I’d recommend to all.
Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of subtitles, Warner Bros have already bought the rights for a remake!
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