Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tribeca ’11: Point Blank

Don’t call it a discovery. Hollywood has already come calling French director Fred Cavayé. Unfortunately, it was Paul Haggis who remade his debut feature as The Next Three Days, but it still counts. He might have knocked the wind out of James Bond, but the jinxed former Scientologist should not derail Cavayé based on his sophomore outing, Point Blank (trailer here), which screens at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival kicking off today.

Scheduled to hit American theaters in earnest a few months from now, Blank is notable as one of two films at Tribeca starring Gilles Lellouche. A complete change-up from the predatory financier of Cédric Klapisch’s My Piece of the Pie, Lellouche makes a credible wrongly accused everyman in the Hitchcockian tradition. However, the film really belongs to Roschdy Zem as Hugo Sartet, the stone-cold safe-cracker who inadvertently pulls Lellouche’s innocent nurse’s assistant into a major criminal conspiracy.

Quietly intense and smoothly charismatic, Zem makes a killer noir anti-hero. As Sartet, he truly exemplifies screen presence. Overdue for breakout international stardom after memorable appearances in Outside the Law and The Girl from Monaco, Blank might finally settle the matter.

Cavayé also earns breakout props for Blank. Tightly paced and sharply executed, he has helmed quite an agile thriller, while also showing the occasional flash of mordant wit. He also demonstrates a rare talent for choreographing near riot scenes, deftly balancing the mass chaos with the need to show the characters’ action with clarity.

There will be plenty more written about Blank in the future, but for now it is safe to say it is one of the more satisfying selections at Tribeca this year. Highly recommended, it screens during the festival this Saturday (4/23), Monday (4/25), and Wednesday (4/27).