FANTASTIC FEST 2011
By Don Simpson | September 24, 2011
Writer: Nicolas Saada
Starring: Tomer Sisley, Joey Starr, Julien Boisselier, Serge Riaboukine, Laurent Stocker, Samy Seghir, Dominique Bettenfeld, Adel Bencherif, Birol Ünel, Lizzie Brocheré
In the time span of a brutally intense 24 hours — including a sleepless night for everyone involved in the film — director Frédéric Jardin’s Sleepless Night begins with a drug heist gone horribly awry and snowballs into a relentless powerhouse of non-stop action from that point onward. In a tale in which there are very few good guys and countless shades of baddies, it is difficult to surmise where the protagonist, Vincent (Tomer Sisley), falls.
As fate would have it, Vincent possesses a bag of cocaine that was stolen from two cronies employed by a local drug lord named Marciano (Serge Riaboukine). Marciano therefore kidnaps Vincent’s son and offers Vincent a trade — the boy for the cocaine. Left with no other choice, Vincent makes his way to Marciano’s labyrinthine discothèque called Le Tarmac with no plan, only the overwhelming parental desire to save his son.
It seems quite simple. Vincent just needs to return the drugs to Marciano and he can walk away peacefully with his son. But, unfortunately for Vincent, a never-ending web of characters becomes fatefully intertwined with him during the transaction, and Vincent spends a majority of the film in a hopeless cat-and-mouse game with two drug lords, their minions, and at least two police officers. An assortment of nightclub staff and patrons are engulfed into the tornado of fisticuffs — early on, Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” throbs from the sound system to serve as a precursor of what is to come. Dust will be bitten, you can be certain of that.
Party people saturate every orifice of Le Tarmac as the block rockin’ beats blend seamlessly with the non-stop pummeling of flesh and shattering of bones. The characters in Sleepless Night know how to take a licking and keep on ticking, that is for damn sure. The intensity — and length — of some of the fight scenes is almost laughable, especially when we see the same characters moving around as if unscathed one scene later. We can chalk Vincent’s invincibility up to sheer adrenaline and the motivation of having to save his son. Everyone else? Maybe France has been breeding super humans?
Sleepless Night has a lot in common with Fred Cavayé’s Point Blank (Á bout portant) — besides both being French films, they deal with the kidnapping of loved ones and the relentless drive and strength that such a predicament provides to the father/husband in order to rescue the kidnapped. I thought Point Blank was a fast-paced thriller, but Sleepless Night makes Point Blank seem like mere child’s play. My only question is why does it always seem to be the father/husband who does the saving?