For there to be a crime, there has to be a personal reason, a personal motive. But if it happens by chance…
From this textual opening we then see the feet of two people quickly heading down the steps of a Montparnasse (Paris) apartment building. They hit the street, and the camera tracks up from their feet and they appear to be a tad nervous. But they start to walk off calmly.
There’s a small collision with a young woman coming from the opposite direction. She drops her bag, and one of the young men, without realizing it, drops a single black woolen glove.
She turns to look at them, and one of them the boys looks back at her twice before they rush off.
We next see these two young men, actually they are high school students – in the school cafeteria.
I know why you’re scared. You’re scared you’ll dream about her.
She was just a whore.
This is the opening few minutes of a 2014 French film, directed by Raphael Neal, that has just been released here in the US. I mean the DVD has been released by Artspoitation Films, a Philadelphia based outfit headed by Ray Murray.
Without seeing anything of the event, we will come to learn that these two high-schoolers have murdered a woman. Also we will see nothing involving the police search for the killers beyond some newspaper headlines, a quick shot or two of uniformed cops on the street, and some conversations by local shop-keepers.
For a film about a murder that is quite unusual. As you can see, in the film’s poster at the top, the tagline reads: They executed the perfect crime…until they got away with it.
But there’s the rub. Knowing they ‘ve gotten away with crime, how do they deal with that? Will they go back to being teenagers in high school with all the stresses and anxieties that go with that territory. Or will they be influenced by external factors that have nothing to do with the crime such as a frank talk with one of the boy’s grandfathers that ties in with what they have on their plate in their high school philosophy class.
I hear your questions:
What about the grandfather? And what are they studying in that class? And your third question – what about the woman who saw them on the street and picked up the dropped glove?
Here’s a major hint – a book written by Hannah Arendt, a controversial book – Eichmann in Jerusalem: The Banality of Evil is the philosophy course topic.
Here’s a second major hint – the infamous French collaborator Maurice Papon.
The boys are Damien (Martin Loisillon) and Pierre (Pierre Moure). They’re not particularly special. They are just rich kids in an elite high school. The woman who collides with them and finds and keeps the glove is called Zoe (Julie-Marie Parmentier).
She lives and works in the same neighborhood as the victim. Zoe only finds out about the murder a day or so later when she reads about it in the newspaper. She is an optician and has problems of her own – like a disinterested husband.
So her question is what, if anything, will she do about the boys who dropped the glove and who looked a tad nervous.
Director Raphael Neal also wrote the screenplay, adapting it from the novel by Leslie Kaplan. He’s not given us a who-done-it, or how-will-they be-caught. Rather we are asked to consider two young men, who are a modern-day version of the thrill killers from the 1920’s – Leopold & Loeb. Kaplan and Neal have blended in the question of living with guilt or ignoring it, as did Rudolph Eichmann which was the question and theme of Arendt’s controversial book.
Whether or not this will work for you conceptually is a question I can’t answer. The film is quite slowly paced even with its short run time of 81 minutes. There’s really no action to speak of, and while Damien and Pierre neither look nor represent evil, after all, they’re just a couple of teenagers and if that sounds banal, it is meant to be just that.
The film has its moments, and is worth a look. The DVD is available from Artsploitation Films. Have a look at the trailer.