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Director Dominik Moll (Lemmings) and co-screenwriter Gilles Marchand (Human Resources) masterfully adapt Colin Niel’s atmospheric mystery novel, Seules les bêtes.
[An] audacious, witty and absorbing mystery thriller.
Evelyne Ducat (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi), a self-possessed woman in a complicated marriage, disappears one night during a snowstorm in a remote region of southern France on the harsh, mountainous Causse plateau. The woman’s disappearance sets off a chain of reactions in a nearby community as the police investigate. Elegantly structured and darkly humorous, the plot draws into its orbit a web of characters whose own projections, desires and secret longings complicate any straightforward resolution.
The central mystery at the heart of the film and novel is satisfyingly resolved but along the way Moll’s absorbing film explores the labyrinthine ‘mysteries’ motivating the actions of characters in Evelyne’s orbit: a taciturn farmer traumatised by a recent loss who lives alone, an emotionally estranged husband and wife searching for love in all the wrong places, a young woman who fearlessly abandons herself to an unrequited passion and, in a deft narrative move, an online scammer based in Abidjan on West Africa’s Ivory Coast, who enters into a more explicitly transactional ‘relationship’ with Michel, (Denis Ménochet) whose own wife is cheating on him.
Alongside French icons, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (Human Capital) and Denis Ménochet (By the Grace of God), the uniformly excellent cast also features Laure Calamy (Call My Agent) and Damien Bonnard (Les Misérables).
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