Roubaix, une lumière
Panorama | Spotlight on France
The mean streets of Roubaix - director Arnaud Desplechin’s hometown - are the setting for this gritty police procedural centred around solving the murder of an elderly woman. Unflappable police captain Yakoub Daoud (Roschdy Zem) commands his team, including newcomer Louis Cotterel (Antoine Reinartz), as they go through their exhausting routine and respond to an unending series of crimes. Eventually, a murder case takes precedence, and the interrogation of the victim’s two young neighbours, Claude (Léa Seydoux) and Marie (Sara Forestier), sees them quickly go from witnesses to prime suspects.
Less of a generic policier than it is a sensitive study of social reality and process, this is a film about the nuts and bolts of police work, the challenges that come along with it, and the human element of putting real people behind bars in an unforgiving milieu. A notable departure for the acclaimed French auteur and VIFF fave Desplechin (My Golden Days, A Christmas Tale) known for his exuberant romantic dramas, Oh Mercy is a firmly grounded and meticulously detailed look at those on both sides of the law in a high-crime community.