The first thing you should know about The Night of the 12th is that it’s not your usual crime thriller. It’s not Crimson Rivers, for example. It opens with one of the more brutal murders I have ever seen on screen to hook you in. It needs to hook you in because the subjects we’re going to be talking about are not easy and cheerful. We will be following a group of detectives trying to solve this horrific murder and at each step trying to piece the puzzle ourselves. And at each step, we will be met with the hard truth of what’s really going on in our society. Femicide is a huge problem in most countries in the world and to fully understand it we must dig deep.
We must look at the values and misconceptions propagated by our society as truths and justifications. And once you take a good hard look at the characters in this movie, La Nuit du 12, you’ll realize you fucking know them. And then you’ll know the severity of the problem we’re facing. So, if it is a murder mystery that’s going to neatly wrap up in the end, you seek, a better look for a different movie. This one is more interested in posing questions and showing the toll these cases take on investigative officers.
Don’t get me wrong, The Night of the 12th is a gripping procedural thriller but it’s also so much more than that. It has its flaws and I’m sure some of you won’t like the ending but I found it oddly compelling. The movie is actually based on a non-fiction novel 18.3: Une Annee a la PJ by Pauline Guéna. Pauline spent a year embedded with the police officers investigating all kinds of different crimes and this is why everything you’re going to see in this movie feels so authentic.
Some of the scenes, like the one with the mother were so fucked up they’re still playing in my head. The same goes for the interviews and relationships between the detectives. The black humor you have to use to try and defuse the tension and come to grips with what has happened. It all feels very real and stays with you. Just like that infamous police concept of that one case that stays with you.
Clara is a vivacious young girl walking home after a visit to her best friend. It’s dark but she feels pretty safe as her little town is not known for any sort of crime. This is where things take a turn for the worse. It’s the morning after and the detectives get the call that the body of a young woman has been found. They arrive at the scene only to be horrified by what has transpired just a few hours ago. And so the quest to find the killer begins…
I know I spent a lot of the time talking about how The Night of the 12th feels so I want to make sure you know how it looks. And it looks fucking gorgeous! The cinematography is excellent and the setting could not be better. A small sleepy French rural town surrounded by imposing and picturesque mountains. Certain scenes felt like CGI as my eyes simply could not believe that scenery like that could exist in real life. In that sense, it reminded me of another French movie with a similar setting and murder mystery but a completely different atmosphere, The Takedown.
Bouli Lanners (Tueurs) was excellent as Marceau while I still can’t make up my mind about Bastien Bouillon as Yohan. He seemed a bit wooden and uncomfortable in certain scenes but exactly this made them hit harder. They felt more realistic because of that as you would imagine similar things would happen in real life. However, Mouna Soualem as Nadia, the new detective stole the show for me. Not only she gave one hell of a performance but she also had this unique beauty and grace that I can’t put into words.
Finally, if you’re looking for movies like The Night of the 12th check out L.626. There’s something about these French police movies that I love so much. And this is the reason why there are so many of them on Rabbit Reviews. And if you’re for looking for something just a tad bit flashier take a look at Olivier Marchal’s crime thrillers MR73 or 36th Precinct. As a former detective and police officer he has a unique perspective on this subject.