EIFF Paris Countdown

Director Edgar Marie’s debut feature is a highly-charged, fast paced story of violent, morally-dubious characters set in and around the nightlife of Paris. None of which will come as a surprise to those familiar with his work as a writer on the tv series Braquo. Milan (Olivier Marchal) and Victor (Jaques Gamblin), once partners in a nightclub, have broken off all contact with each other since a drug deal went wrong six years previously. After their capture and brutalization at the hands of the Mexican police results in them signing testimonies that convict their contact, they return to Paris where Victor, blaming Milan for their ordeal, takes no further part in the running of the club. Until word reaches them that the thug is out of jail, back in Paris, and seeking revenge…and so they reluctantly join forces once again, trying desperately to keep a step ahead of their pursuers as the body count mounts up and their options become ever more limited.

The action unfolds over the course of one night, and Marie and cinematographer Danny Elsen make the best possible use of the city’s highly photogenic locations. The complex relationship between the two central characters is brought to life superbly by Marchal and Gamblin; they could almost be a divorced couple rather than ex business partners.

The film works all the better for the fact that the leads are mature, experienced men who convey a “seen it all, done it all” air, but are now obviously men out of their time – a fact pointed up by the use of a pounding club music soundtrack more pertinent to a younger generation. Milan’s wry comment that “the problem isn’t that I’m 50, it’s that I’m not 30” hits home to those of us of a certain age.

And if the ending has a feeling of inevitability to it, well, let’s just say that here it’s not the arrival, but the journey that counts.

Jim Welsh