Sleepless Night
(Nuit Blanche)

Sleepless Night (Nuit Blanche)

Made in: France, Belgium (location), Luxembourg (location)
Language: French
Director: Frederic Jardin
Starring: Tomer Sisley, Serge Riaboukine, Laurent Stocker, Joey Starr, Julien Boisselier, Lizzie Brocheré, Samy Seghir
Year: 2011

Synopsis: Vincent (Tomer Sisley) and his partner Manu (Laurent Stocker) are a pair of police detectives who ambush a group of drug couriers. Although the plan doesn't go down perfectly, they accomplish their goal: stealing a bag full of cocaine worth A LOT of money.

The drugs belong to a big-time gangster named José Marciano (Serge Riaboukine). Turning the tables, Marciano kidnaps Vincent's son, Thomas (Samy Seghir), and demands the drugs in exchange for Thomas' life.

Reluctantly, Vincent agrees. The overall plan seems straightforward enough: Vincent is to bring the drugs to Marciano's nightclub where the exchange is to be made.

But the deal gets complicated when two other cops (from the French equivalent of Internal Affairs) tail Vincent to the club, thinking that he's dirty. The two IA officers are Lacombe (Julien Boisselier) and Vignali (Lizzie Brocheré).

But Vincent's simple plan quickly goes sideways when the two other officers interfere, and further complications arise with the arrival of Marciano's associate, Feydek, (Joey Starr) who bought the bag of drugs and is expecting to collect them.

With time running out for everyone, secret plots and motives are revealed as Marciano's club becomes ground zero for a night of violence, mayhem, and techno music.

The Good: Sleepless Night is a pretty fast-paced thriller that does a great job with visual storytelling. Within the first few minutes, without having to rely on much dialogue, director Frederic Jardin sets up most of the key players, their personal histories, and their emotional dynamics. This paves the way for a well-structured and well-timed plot that plays itself through without dragging or feeling rushed.

Tomer Sisley does a great job carrying the film- he's an intense protagonist who displays a broad range of realistic emotions. He's believable as both a concerned father and ethically questionable cop. The nightclub set, where the majority of the film takes place, is virtually a life-like entity of its own and is just as important as the major characters.

The action, as well as the rest of the film, has a raw, almost documentary-like feel. Although choreographed, there's an unsettling realism about every fight and chase, and no obvious digital effects are there to create action-movie slickness.

The Bad: There could have been some more development of the internal affairs officer, Lacombe (played by Julien Boisselier). And on a technical note, the layout of the nightclub could be a little confusing at times. But seeing how it was filmed in several different countries, the filmmakers did a pretty good job creating the illusion of it all taking place in one place over the course of a single night.

Who would like this film: Sleepless Night is for you if you're in the mood for an action thriller. It's not as glossy-looking as a big budget Hollywood blockbuster, but it matches (and arguably surpasses) most Hollywood movies in terms of action, acting quality, and emotional intensity. 

The underlying premise isn't anything too different from what action movie fans have seen before. I'd argue that the straightforward plot, as well executed as it is, may actually be the film's greatest weakness. But great acting and directing help elevate Sleepless Night as a solid cop thriller.

(3 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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