Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tribeca ’12: Sleepless Night

Crooked cops are as French as frog legs and escargot.  In fact, there are varying degrees of police corruption, as viewers can see in Frederic Jardin’s cops vs. cops vs. drug dealers shoot-out Sleepless Night (trailer here), which screens during the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.

Vincent and even more corrupt partner Manu just relieved some couriers of a huge shipment of cocaine.  Unfortunately, he took a stiletto wound in the process.  Without time to be properly stitched up, he must quickly bundle his son off to school and then show up at the station to play innocent.  Events take a turn for the worse when the kingpin Marciano abducts the lad, demanding the coke as ransom.  Into the lion’s den, or in this case Marciano’s club Le Tarmac, Vincent goes.  When the yet even more corrupt internal affairs officer swipes his hidden coke, the desperate father starts improvising.  This is when things start getting good.

Poor morally compromised Vincent bleeds in every corner of the up-scale hipster disco/restaurant/pool hall, but he always gives as good as he gets.  The kitchen gets a particularly messy going-over, worrying the staff no end.  Every time Vincent returns to their domain, the film gets an invigorating jolt of energy.

Tightly helmed by Jardin and stylishly lensed by frequent Eastwood cinematographer Tom Stern, Sleepless Night is sort of like the adrenaline-charged, action-driven variation on the brooding Paris By Night, which screened at French Rendezvous earlier in the year.  As Vincent, Tomer Sisley (a.k.a. Largo Wench) is not as cool as Roschdy Zem, but he is still one bad cat. 

While not exactly legendary, Sleepless also has some respectable villains, including Serge Riaboukine, whose somewhat larger than life Marciano clearly enjoys the trappings of gangster life.  French rapper Joey Starr also brings the appropriate ferocity as Feydek, Marciano’s impatient buyer.  Also making quite the impression in a small role as a bystander helping Vincent, Dutch-Russian-Korean model Pom Klementieff should definitely have a future looking alluring in films.
Although Sleepless Night wastes some time up top, over-establishing what a disappointing father Vincent is, once it gets going, it becomes a thoroughly entertaining roller-coaster. Not quite at the level of Gareth Huw Evans The Raid: Redemption, but a pretty impressive excursion into action filmmaking, nonetheless, Sleepless screens tonight (4/22), Thursday (4/26), and Friday (4/27) during this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, with a theatrical release slated for May from Tribeca’s film distribution arm.