The Night Of The 12th aka La Nuit du 12 (2022) Review

Quick Synopsis: It’s said that every police officer has a case that haunts them, this is the story of one of them.

Many people aren’t going to like this for one simple reason; it’s a murder investigation where the murderer is never found. I know, spoilers, but in my defence, the film does open with text saying “A lot of murders are not solved, this is one of them” so you can’t exactly say you’re not surprised. But despite that, when the police are investigating the death, interviewing suspects, and following leads, you still have hope they’ll get the right person. So whilst it is frustrating, it’s also kind of genius. It’s like if someone came up to you and said “I’m going to con you out of thousands of pounds with a card trick” and being so masterful and charismatic that they manage to do it anyway even though you’re aware it’s coming.

Rarely has a film put you in the shoes of the characters as well as this. That frustration and annoyance when they don’t find their man? That’s felt by both the characters and the audience. The most frustrating part is the truth of the result. We’re used to police on-screen solving crimes and finding the person responsible, and it gives people a false sense of security that if something does happen to them, they’ll be brought to justice. That’s not just a pithy comment from me by the way, the way that television depicts forensic investigation has led to issues with juries overestimating how precise it is, to the detriment of justice. To know that THIS, this is how a lot of these investigations end is heartbreaking. It’s not just the fact it’s unsolved, but the sheer brutality of the murder makes it difficult to forget. It’s actually a really well-filmed murder. Far too many films about young women being murdered manage to make the murder uncomfortable but for the wrong reasons. They’re usually not uncomfortable because of the senseless death of a person, but because of the weird sexualisation of the murder; a young woman moaning when she’s penetrated by a more dominant male who is taking pleasure in his act. That happens far too often and it’s fucking weird. And those which aren’t sexualised are filmed in a way that either glorifies it or seems a bit gratuitous. The way it’s done in The Night Of The 12th is shocking; someone just walks up to her, throws fluid on her and sets fire to her. There’s no glamour, no sense that this is “cool”, it’s horrific, it’s unsettling, and it’s exactly how it should be.

None of this would matter at all if the performances weren’t up to par. There are not many performers who are that well known in the English-speaking world, but like all good subtitled films, eventually you forget it’s subtitled and just enjoy. Its weird, I can almost hear the dialogue, but I hear it in English.

Like all non-English/American films, there are a few cultural differences you need to get used to, but nothing too extreme that you’ll be lost. The cinematic language is slightly different from what you’ll be used to, but you’ll still be able to follow it, Dominik Moll does such a good job with the visual storytelling that even if you sit back in your chair and are unable to see the subtitles you’ll still be able to get a good indication of what is happening.

Now onto the downside; it’s almost two hours long and I don’t think it needs to be. The cycling sequences are there for a reason (to show the stress etc that the character is under) but they are a bit too long and repetitive, staying long past the point that they’re necessary. There is quite a jarring time-skip as well. Once you’re resettled in the new timeline it makes sense, but it just happens like a normal scene transition; should have been handled much better. It also provides slightly too much characterisation. That’s a weird thing to say, I know. But there are multiple instances of things mentioned, in a way that you think means they will be relevant later, that is never really raised again. It’s like Chekov’s Gun but if it misfires and shoots the walls.

Overall, an incredibly fascinating watch, but not an easy one. Plus, let’s face it, the lack of a conclusion will frustrate some.

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