"Médecin de nuit" (The Night Doctor), co-written and directed by Elie Wajeman ("Aliyah", "The Anarchists"), filmed in Paris at the turn of 2019 and 2020, checks all the boxes of the film noir genre: a city at night, individuals at the margins of society, either by choice or left behind by the system (drug addicts, thugs and other traffickers, homeless or destitute underdogs), violence erupting at regular intervals, a hero (Mickaël, the night doctor of the title) somewhat in trouble with the law struggling against forces beyond him, including a (could-be) femme fatale (Sofia, Mickaël's ambiguous mistress) and a seductive but devious villain.
Naturally, gathering all the ingredients of a recipe does not mean that the dish will be successful, one has to accommodate them the right way. Judging by the result, Elie Wajeman has proved up to the task. The cook sure did not spoil the broth!
First things first, for Wajeman, just like Richard Bohringer, "A City is Beautiful at Night", an aesthetic taste that he manages (with the competent assistance of cinematographer David Chizallet) to translate on the wide screen, the cold ugliness of the areas the doctor drives through being advantageously replaced by the warm glow of all kinds of lights, fixed or changing (red lights, neon signs, lit windows, etc.)
Secondly, as a writer (Wajeman started writing the script with Agnès Feuvre but completed it alone), the director shows an aptitude (required for this kind of film) to spare his effects, to play with the unexpected, to sustain the interest until the denouement: tension, threats and twists duly pervade the plot. Moreover, by compressing the action into a period of less than 24 hours and a running time of 82 minutes, Wajeman further enhances the dramatic potential of his story, constantly varying according to the moments from anecdotal, daily or amused to dramatic, even tragic, through a whole range of intermediate tonalities
For his part, he actor Vincent Macaigne is not for nothing in this success: his unfailing investment in his character added to his natural talent give a flawless consistency to the whole thing. It is impressive to see him change without apparent transition from "holy man" to "thick brute", from worn out man to consoler of those who suffer.
Last but not least, as in the best films noirs, the author is not content to illustrate the crime plot, he places it in the richer framework of psychological study, sociological observation and documentary,
Thus we will witness the marital crisis that pits Mickaël and his wife Sacha against each other.
Thus we will discover what is hidden inside these impersonal buildings housing modest beings in modest districts.
Thus we will see how a night doctor works (the consultation scenes seem to come out of reality as if filmed by a hidden camera.)
At the time of the final sequence, of great dramatic power, you will be completely shaken. "The Night Doctor" will not disappear instantly from your memory.
2 out of 7 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.