an intelligent cop movie, where the realism hits a sour spot
Commissar Yacoub Daoud knows his multicultural community. In fact he was one of those migrants himself once upon a time, but now calls northern France home. We follow him through his busy days on the job as he investigates a disappearance, an arson and a murder with some unexpected results.
Director Arnaud Desplechin does slightly provocative serious dramas with a lot of dialogue. He had had mixed results over the years, with his film Ismael's Ghosts being a confusing mess according to some. Here, however the artistry gives way to an intelligent cop movie, where the realism hits a sour spot. While OH MERCY! feels fresh, there's nothing innovative about its approach. This is how they made procedural police films in the 80's, only instead of Roschdy Zem you would have gotten Lino Ventura.
Talking about Roschdy Zem, this is one of the most versatile modern French actors, who has a unique presence in action, comedy or serious drama. He and Lea Seydoux, who plays one of the girls tangled in the murder investigation, carry the film forward, delivering intensity and realism. The movie is drastically different from what we are used to in cop dramas coming from USA, and this may be one of the good reasons to give it a try.
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