A brutal murder in Le Havre: 38 people must have noticed, but say they heard or saw nothing. A claustrophobic, moving, beautifully shot film with a strong cast including Yvan Attal, Sophie Quinton and Nicole Garcia. A clear picture of what fear and shame do to people.
Outside an apartment complex in the French port city of Le Havre, a female student is gruesomely murdered in the middle of the night. The complex’s 38 inhabitants say they heard or saw nothing. Until one of them, the introverted pilot Pierre (Yvan Attal), decides to break the silence. He admits to the police that he was awakened by a desperate, primeval cry. A cry that cannot have escaped his neighbours’ attention.
But why did they, just like Pierre, not come to the victim’s aid? Why do they collectively deny having witnessed the murder? Due to cowardice, shame or fear? These questions haunt the traumatised Pierre, and director Belvaux (The Trilogy) states them openly. His book adaptation (the opening film at IFFR 2012) is an unbiased investigation. Why do people tend to want to hush up certain events? 38 Witnesses is a thorough, psychological study and a claustrophobic murder mystery in one. The understated cinematography and subdued soundtrack subtly increase the tension. –IFFR
Lucas Belvaux (born 14 November 1961 in Namur, Belgium) is a Belgian actor and film director. His directing credits include the Trilogie, consisting of three films with interlocking stories and characters, each of which was filmed in a different genre. The three films are Cavale, a thriller; Un couple épatant, a comedy; and Après la vie, a melodrama. His film La Raison du plus faible was entered into the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. He also appeared as an actor in the film Merry Christmas (2005). He is the brother of Rémy Belvaux and Bruno Belvaux. —Wikipedia
This year’s edition includes Rendez-Vous +, “a potpourri of recent French documentaries and rarely screened classics.”
A roundup of reviews, impressions and more from this year’s edition.