Médecin De Nuit aka The Night Doctor (2020)

Quick Synopsis: Mikaël (Vincent Macaigne) is a doctor on night call. He looks after patients from underprivileged neighbourhoods, as well as drug addicts. We see his nightly work as he’s torn between his wife and his mistress, and embroiled in trafficking fraudulent prescriptions.

The trailer had me excited. It looked like it was going to be incredibly intense and dark. And while watching it, I was on board. But the longer the film went on, the more my fondness for it dulled. It’s one of those films which you think is really good as you watch it and see it unfold, but after setting up all these narrative dominos, it seems to get bored and wander off, so it just leaves you feeling unsatisfied. It’s a shame as there are some great performances in here, and some incredibly tense moments. But overall a lot of it feels inconsequential.

I know this sounds cheap and goes against my usual “all about the narrative” viewpoint. But this needed a gimmick. Maybe it would have worked if it was done as a one-shot, as that would have shown the chaos he’s going through, and his panicking would have seemed real. But considering how much driving is in this that would have been difficult. The best bet would have been to have it like Locke, all take place in real-time. Most of the conversations with his wife could have been done over the phone. as could his dilemma with the mistress and cousin. It’s hard to love this film knowing that if they did it another way it would have been SOOOO much better. The character in this is supposed to be panicking and feeling trapped, but we never really get that. We never feel much emotion for him and his troubles, we just feel like an observer. It’s not helped by the fact that the longer the film goes on, the less you buy him as a character. He overpowers seasoned drug dealers too easily and at times it feels like self-insert fanfiction. The only person he doesn’t seem to easily physically overpower is his cousin, he goes from “quickly punching people in the face and taking them out ” to “awkward grabbing”.

That moment comes just after he had a fight with notorious drug lord Ossip, who is one of those characters who is supposed to linger over the entire film, but in reality, doesn’t. You don’t feel his presence looming over when he’s not on screen. He’s not built up as a danger. If we saw him executing somebody, then he’d feel more of a threat. As it is you don’t really get that “oh no, he has to do this or that drug lord will harm his family”. The film tries to fix this with the ending, but the way they do it seems cheap and is done purely to get the sympathy of the audience with the main character. That’s the issue the whole film has, by the way, it doesn’t know how to treat the main character. We’re supposed to sympathise with him, but he’s quite unsympathetic. But done in a way that constantly justifies all his bad decisions. It’s like the writers want to create a morally complex character, but want to ensure we still sympathise with him.

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