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OH MERCY! was easily the most inconsistent film I've seen all year.
It's description of 'A police chief in northern France tries to solve a case where an old woman was brutally murdered' starring Lea Seydoux sounds like a potential recipe for success, but none of the more interesting aspects of the film are focused on and instead what we get is a two hour long police procedural that doesn't seem to know what it wants to be.
The film goes from serious to almost comical at points, dealing with horrific crimes and then playing out good cop/bad cop scenes that are cartoonish to say the least. It's shooting style jumps from one to the next, one second it's all very shaky handheld, the next it's all very smooth tracking shots. Lastly the score seems to be taking pages from everywhere, with Dheepan and The Revenant being ones I heard almost copies of within the film. I call these inconsistencies because there's no point within the film that leads me to believe that these jumps in tone, shooting style or score are there for any artistic reason or to enhance the point of any scenes, it all just comes across as random.
The main issue I had with this film was it's pacing, the first half of the film is spent introducing characters and looking at half a dozen crimes which ultimately don't have anything to do with one another. Everything is played out incredibly seriously, there are some monologues from a new detective commenting on the way of the world these days, but because we're not given any information on the police officers working these cases it's nearly impossible to care about what's going on.
The second half is then spent looking at the murder in the synopsis. We see some characters being tracked down, clues are found and eventually an actual suspect is brought in, we see some brilliant performances in the interrogation scene and things pick up slightly, but after a quick confession I was left confused and then back to bored. The confession itself didn't seem to make much sense in the moment, which is partly the point, you're in a space of unknowing and left trying to figure out whether the culprit is covering for someone else, which is why the interrogation scene works so well. You're in the headspace of the police chief at that point, searching for any inconsistencies in their story and watching for any subtle hints of a lie, but when the rest of the film doesn't clue you in on really why the murderer did what they did, it all seems pointless.
We get trickles of information about the police chief, but throughout the entire film he seems happy and well adjusted with his job and life, and by the end of the film he hasn't changed in the slightest. As with the new detective, who I thought may have been scared slightly by the nature of the old woman's murder, but nothing has changed for him. Every character is incredibly two dimensional and it makes it very hard to care about what's going on at all.
I understand that this may have been the point of the film, I actually like the idea of having a police film look at everything these detectives have to go through, and the only real part of the story is just a drop in the bucket of what they have to deal with each week. It contextualises the struggles the police have to go through in an interesting way and looks at the impossible task it is to get out of the cycle of crime for the poor people in these cities. It's just a shame this idea wasn't better realised by letting us learn about these character's internally whilst they try and solve the mystery.
Check this one out if you're interested in seeing a great performance from Lea Seydoux and Roschdy Zem, but this one wasn't for me - 4/10
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