by Cedric Jimenez
French film, 1 h 45
Official selection – Out of competition
Presented in 2021 at Cannes, North ferry had sparked controversy – accused by a journalist of playing into the hands of the extreme right – and met with enormous public success. Less than a year later, its director presented there Sunday evening, out of competition, his new film November slated for release in October. The event was highly anticipated. Because of its subject of course, a reconstruction of the hunt for terrorists after the attacks of November 13, 2015 in Paris, and its high-end cast bringing together Jean Dujardin, Sandrine Kiberlain, Jérémie Renier and Anaïs Demoustier. Long applauded at the end of the screening, the film did not disappoint thrill seekers. The film, in fact, boils down almost entirely to him. Written by Olivier Demangel, it does not bother with frills or psychology to immerse us in immersion with the police officers of the anti-terrorist sub-division during the five days that the hunt for two of the fugitive terrorists lasted – including Abdelhamid Abaaoud, then considered the mastermind of the attacks – until the assault on the building in Saint-Denis where they had taken refuge and where they blew themselves up by triggering their explosive belts.
From the first scene, when all the telephones in the service start ringing at the same time, we are caught up in the race against time which begins between the police, in a hurry to avoid a new attack, and terrorists whose flight was obviously unprepared. As in North ferry, the camera places us as close as possible to the investigators and shares with us all the details of their meticulous work with its hopes, its false leads, its errors but also its incredible strokes of luck like this testimony from Samia, the young woman who puts on the trail of the hideout of the fugitives. Cédric Jimenez has a job and knows how to create suspense where there is none. The rhythm of the film, thanks to once again amazing editing work, is modeled on the twists and turns of the investigation, alternating moments of calm when the tracks pursued lead to nothing and sudden accelerations when a new element arises. And leaves us stunned by the final scene of the assault where the Raid triggers a deluge of fire failing to have been able to blow up the door.
If the film is content to restore a reality – that of the investigation – the details of which we already know from the numerous articles and reports which have been devoted to it, the director has the intelligence not to add to it. And his sobriety is welcome to approach such a subject. Carefully avoiding reproducing the attacks themselves, he nevertheless manages to restore their emotional charge through archive images – François Hollande’s speech – and through the patient work of collecting clues at the bedside of the wounded. Finally, in addition to its headliners, the film highlights, in the role of simple investigators alongside Anaïs Demoustier, a generation of promising young actors – Lyna Khoudry, Sofian Khammes, Sami Outalbali, Stéphane Bak and Raphaël Quenard – , all of which are remarkable and give extra soul to the film.