Jean Dujardin in the drama about the terrorist attacks in Paris – The Hollywood Reporter
The horror genre is so caught up in a non-stop, breathless race against the clock that it never fully stops to consider what it’s trying to say, November (Novembre) follows a group of French counter-terrorism special forces as they try to track down the remaining perpetrators behind a wave of devastating attacks that hit Paris in 2015.
Directed by the new resident French action specialist, Cédric Jimenez (Wall, Connectivity), and featuring an all-star cast that includes Jean Dujardin, Anaïs Demoustier, Sandrine Kiberlain, and Jérémie Renier, the film uses a lot of energy and a fair amount of resources (the budget is listed as $13 million, seems low compared to the high production value) to describe what happened in the five days from November 13order – when jihadists attacked multiple targets in Paris, including the Bataclan concert hall – and 18orderwhen authorities tracked down two of them in the northern suburbs of Seine-Saint-Denis.
An obnoxious real-life delinquent who lacks a heart.
Those two events end the film and perhaps his wisest directorial decision of all November, Jimenez never shows the first one. Instead, after an opening chase scene in which chief agent Fred (Dujardin) loses track of a suspect in Greece a few months earlier, we arrive at the counterterrorism team’s headquarters in Paris as the raid begins. Bataclan attack begins. A lone agent on the night shift receives a phone call at the office. Suddenly, dozens of other phones started ringing, and it was clear that something big had gone wrong.
The suggestive art implied by that early scene is completely absent from the rest of the film, following Fred and his colleague Ines (Demoustier), as well as Héloise (Kiberlain) and Marco (Renier), as they scrambling like crazy to find the two shooters who managed to escape. We see every door knocked down by the police, every phone they knock on, every suspect they interrogate and every false lead they follow, with DP Nicolas Loir’s camera fixed forever on a Steadicam rig as he tries to keep up with the cast that constantly rushes ahead of him to arrest the bad guys.
Jimenez and writer Olivier Demangel (who also penned the film Omar Sy Father and soldier, premiered in Un Certain) seems to be obsessed with longitude, shooting in the actual locations where events happened and sticking to the actual investigation. There is a document side to November that’s well done by both the cast and crew, but other than that, what’s the movie about? Well, not much.
The model here seems to be from Kathryn Bigelow Zero Dark Thirty, which recreates the 10-year hunt for Osama bin Laden in thrilling ways. But it also raises bigger questions about America’s place in a post-9/11 world, the moral implications of torture, and the existential implications of fulfilling your mission without must turn next. Such problems are almost nonexistent Novemberexcept, perhaps, in a few scenes dealing with Samia (the excellent Lyna Khoudri), a Muslim girl decides to go see her roommate (Sarah Afchain), suspecting that she has links to those terrorist.
It turns out to be a lead role for Fred and Ines, and the latter is obligated to lie to Samia to get what she needs. That moment offers a brief slice of human drama in what else a movie is driven more by adrenaline than by mind. There was also some confusion about who and what, with Jimenez never providing a title or explanation. We don’t even know the name of the service Fred heads – it appears to be SDAT (Sous-directed counterterrorism) – nor what kind of command he’s working on. All we know is that there are plenty of people running around, driving around, or slaves all night at their desks. Does anyone ever sleep or eat?
Such an approach has its limits, although it can also be effective at times, especially in a tough sequence, next to your seat after the police finally corner the jihadists. into the hideout of their little Saint-Denis, and all hell breaks loose. According to reports at the time, nearly 5,000 rounds were fired during the nighttime raid by French authorities, and you can be sure that Jimenez put every bullet in his film.
In a similar way, the director flexed his action muscles in the Marseille setting Wall, a local hit in 2020, draws audiences back into theaters and features some spectacular staging but also seems to be blinding French police at the expense of others. (Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen tweeted urging people to go see a movie that reveals the “horrible reality” of Marseille.)
November Adjustment for the sole point of view of law enforcement officers, but the real problem is that we never know who these people are behind the uniform. By limiting itself to a non-stop five-day chase, the film ultimately limits its scope. At best we can go with the ride, hit the gas and never bother looking back.