Friday, April 18, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

‘Point’ of great returns

By
From page A9 | September 16, 2011 | Leave Comment

“Point Blank”

Four stars

Starring: Gilles Lellouche, Roschdy Zem, Gérard Lanvin, Elena Anaya, Mireille Perrier, Claire Perot

Rating: Unrated, with R-level profanity and violence

This one hits the ground running and never lets up.

Seriously, I’ve not seen this much sprinting since 1998’s equally breathless “Run, Lola, Run.”

Director/co-writer Fred Cavayé’s “Point Blank” is a slick thriller in the classic Hitchcock mold, with an innocent protagonist pursued by bad guys, good guys and several others in between. The set-up is compelling, the execution riveting.

And brief. Cavayé’s film is an economical 84 minutes, and he doesn’t waste a second. Rarely have I seen a filmmaker so adept at getting on the stage, orchestrating a gripping show and then getting off again. Take the bow, fade to black; everybody’s happy.

I can think of several American directors whose bloated vanity projects would benefit from this sort of discipline.

French thrillers have been getting better lately. I’ve long admired the work of Luc Besson, although his efforts — “The Professional,” “La Femme Nikita” and the “Transporter” series — are more slick fantasy than gritty noir. But director Guillaume Canet’s 2006 adaptation of American novelist Harlan Coben’s “Tell No One” really made us sit up and take notice; it was one of that year’s superior films.

“Point Blank” belongs in its company.

(I should mention, in passing, that this film has no relation to the 1967 Lee Marvin thriller of the same title.)

The story begins aggressively, as a wounded man — Roschdy Zem, as Sartet — is pursued by two gun-toting thugs with murder on their minds. One ghastly traffic accident later, Sartet is en route to the hospital.

This is perhaps the film’s most glaring flaw, since Cavayé seriously oversells this collision; ain’t no way anybody could have survived such an impact. But we’ll let that go.

Sartet winds up on a ward staffed by trainee nurse Samuel Pierret (Gilles Lellouche, who had a supporting role in “Tell No One”). Samuel is happily married to the very pregnant Nadia (Elena Anaya), who has been cautioned to stay calm — and preferably prone — during her final six weeks, lest she risk losing the baby.

Samuel and Nadia clearly adore each other, and their relationship is deftly sketched by Cavayé and co-scripter Guillaume Lemans.

Back at work, Samuel spots somebody suspicious at Sartet’s bedside. The intruder gets away; Samuel notices that Sartet’s oxygen tube has been cut. Thanks to the trainee nurse’s quick thinking, the patient is saved. The police are summoned; the case falls to Commander Fabre (Mireille Perrier) and her squad. She assigns an officer to guard the still unconscious Sartet.

Remember this: No good deed goes unpunished.

Back at home, Samuel is barely able to tell Nadia that he was a hero, when he’s hit over the head and knocked out. He regains consciousness to the insistent buzz of a phone; Nadia is gone. Samuel answers the phone, finds himself talking briefly to his wife — who’s obviously terrified — and then listens as an angry male voice orders him to get Sartet out of the hospital … or else.

Samuel objects, then flinches after hearing gunfire from the phone receiver. The next one, he’s warned, will kill his wife.

The police, meanwhile, are investigating the recent murder of Francis Meyer, a high-profile tycoon killed in his office. This plum case has been assigned to a squad headed by Commander Werner (Gérard Lanvin), much to the ongoing annoyance of Fabre and her people. There’s little love lost between Werner and Fabre — or between the members of their respective squads — and Fabre clearly believes that she gets the lower-profile cases because of her gender.

Sartet’s identity comes up hot — he has a record — so Fabre and her squad head back to the hospital … just as the desperate Samuel tries to smuggle the patient out. Needless to say, Samuel hasn’t a head for such a task; things quickly go awry. And then get worse. And then get even worse, because somehow Sartet is involved in Meyer’s murder, which means that Samuel — who appears to be helping this criminal — is suspected, as well.

Now he’s also being pursued by Werner’s squad. Not to mention the two thugs who were trying to kill Sartet in the first place.

Granted, this plot is stitched together via contrivance, coincidence and eyebrow-raising improbability … but you won’t care. Cavayé and editor Benjamin Weill move things along so quickly that we’ve no time for questions; more crucially, Lellouche anchors this story with his wholly sympathetic performance as a desperate man who’ll do anything to save his wife.

We’re firmly in Samuel’s corner from the beginning, and Lellouche navigates the fine balance between desperation and dwindling moral clarity. Eventually, he needs to trust somebody, and that choice proves unexpected; it also fuels the story’s most intriguing relationship.

And Samuel is no superhero. Yes, he survives a few implausible jumps, but for the most part he’s just an ordinary guy thrust into a horrific situation, doing his best to survive and somehow rescue his wife.

The tension in that corner is equally grim. We’re fully aware of Nadia’s imperiled pregnancy, and Anaya projects appropriate terror and anxiety each time we’re granted a glimpse of the imprisoned woman.

Zem and Lanvin are two sides of the same coin: both stoic, guarded individuals with something to hide. Neither character is granted much back-story, but both actors convey reasonable depth with flinty scowls and minimal dialogue.

Perrier, a longtime stage and screen veteran, deftly communicates her character’s integrity and investigative skills; Fabre clearly is a talented investigator in the mold of Helen Mirren’s Jane Tennison, from the “Prime Suspect” series. We sense that Fabre is the cop most likely to trust and help Samuel … but, on the other hand, it’s difficult to be sure. This story is laden with red herrings and double-crosses.

Claire Perot also stands out as Susini, one of Fabre’s detectives: somebody else to watch.

Cavayé’s film is laden with action sequences, although Samuel’s frantic flight through a metro stop is a highlight: every bit as charged and superbly paced as Warren Beatty’s similar footrace toward the end of 1971’s “Dollars.” This metro sequence, along with many others, gets additional juice from Klaus Badelt’s throbbing, tension-laden score.

In a word, “Point Blank” is breathtaking. It’s an absorbing follow-up to Cavayé’s 2008 thriller, “Anything for Her” — remade last year as the Russell Crowe vehicle, “The Next Three Days” — and I can’t wait to see what this French filmmaker uncorks next.

— Read more of Derrick Bang’s film criticism at http://derrickbang.blogspot.com. Comment on this review at www.davisenterprise.com

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

News

Former caretaker convicted of murder, elder abuse

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Old friend helps Brad and others find kidneys

By Dave Jones | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Chuck Rairdan joins school board race

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1

Going green at church, school, everywhere

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
For the record

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

 
UCD to host Global Health Day event

By Cory Golden | From Page: A2

Ukraine insurgents reject call to quit buildings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

 
Need a new best friend?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
‘Hitchhiking’ dog looking for new home

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Online K-12 school holds info night

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Volkssporting Club plans North Davis walks

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Schwenger lawn signs available

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

Volunteers needed for Grad Night

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Davis grad makes rain collection a business

By Jason McAlister | From Page: A4 | Gallery

A few spots left on history tour

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Chipotle fundraiser boosts Emerson tech upgrade

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Event to provide nature scholarship

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Students have new options on leasing front

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Groups join for a day of service

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
NAMI backers walk in Sacramento

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
Food for the hungry

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10

.

Forum

Dad makes mom look bad

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

 
More tax money? Answer the question

By Rich Rifkin | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
UCD IS responsible for students

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

 
In search of great ideas

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

Please keep the nursery open

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Early help is a great investment

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

.

Sports

Aggies lose a slugfest in opener at Riverside

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Fox coming to UCD; Riffle heads to Florida

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

DHS’ Golston goes full-bore on the diamond

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Devils show more life in loss to Mitty

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Sharks double up Kings in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
DYSA roundup: Intensity has big week; 10U games dominate schedule

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Pro baseball roundup: Susac sends Sacramento to a rare loss

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Sports briefs: Aggies set the academic bar high

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

.

Features

.

Arts

‘The Bloom’ paves way for Whole Earth Festival

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
DHS tribute to Tony Fields slated for April 25-26

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

UCD, city team up for Music on the Green

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
‘Transcendence’: A whole new level of tedium

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

.

Business

Ford turns its Focus to domestic market

By Ali Arsham | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Friday, April 18, 2014

By Creator | From Page: A9

 
.

Real Estate Review

Featured Listing

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER1

Professional Services Directory

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER2

Lyon Real Estate

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER3

Jamie Madison

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Yolo FCU

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Acacia at Huntington Square

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Travis Credit Union

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER5

Kim Eichorn

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

Suzanne Kimmel

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

Lynne Wegner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

Kim Merrel Lamb

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

Chris Snow

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

Patricia Echevarria

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

Don Guthrie

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

Andrew Dowling

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

Sheryl Patterson

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

Coldwell Banker

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER10

Coldwell Banker

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

Julie Partain & Dick Partain

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

Heather Barnes

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

Malek Baroody

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER13

Karen Waggoner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

Willowbank Park

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

Team Traverso

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

Julie Leonard

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

Tim Harrison

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

Tracy Harris

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Lori Prizmich

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Raul Zamora

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

Joe Kaplan

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

Coldwell Banker

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

Open House Map

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

F1rst Street Real Estate

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER20