Sleepless Night is a French action movie, which means that it follows the formula set by its American counterparts—there are plenty of speeding cars, shootouts, and injured bodies; there’s lots of running, shouting, and punching—but also makes the time to let its hero (Tomer Sisley) stop running, sit down, and weep in an empty stairwell between set pieces. It’s his haggard emotional credibility driving the plot—not just director Frédéric Jardin’s exciting pacing and twisty storytelling—that makes the movie so effective.
Sisley plays a crooked cop, Vincent, who with his partner rips off a few drug dealers in the first scene; their boss retaliates by kidnapping Vincent’s son and secreting him away inside a nightclub. The movie becomes a prolonged game of hide-and-seek within this packed, labyrinthine discotheque, inescapable like the setting of a nightmare, as Vincent runs loops from dance floor to office to billiards room to kitchen to stairwell to lounge and back again; each revisit gets funnier and more frustrating. An American movie might just let its hero trash a kitchen and move on, but in Europe they give voice to the laborers left to clean it up. Let’s not forget people actually have to work here, you know—the whole world doesn’t revolve around the family and professional problems of one policeman.
Sleepless Night has its Tribeca debut on Sunday night, and plays again the following Thursday and Friday. Tribeca Film will release it on May 11. More info here.
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