Title: Sleepless Night
Director: Frédéric Jardin
Cast: Tomer Sisley, Serge Riaboukine and Julien Boisselier
It seems like this year, simple high concept action films seem to be the trend. There’s, of course, “The Raid: Redemption,” a film that is a self contained, high octane, martial arts showcase; and for the Tribeca Film Festival we have “Sleepless Night.” A film that follows suit with its single location nature and high stakes action aesthetic, only with “Sleepless Night” we have a deeper narrative and poignant character moments.
“Sleepless Night” follows Vincent (Tomer Sisley), a crooked cop involved in a drug heist gone wrong. Gangsters find out about the drug heist and his son is kidnapped, and somehow Vincent must get back his son while trying to get back the stolen drug while trying not to get caught by his department’s internal affairs. The whole movie mostly takes place in a single location of a popular nightclub in Paris on a Friday night. Leaving no room for error Vincent is caught up in a spectacular of bullets and brawls.
What filmmaker Frédéric Jardin captures with “Sleepless Night” is giving the film a sense of geography, which is a big criticism movies like “Sleepless Night” often get, in terms of photography style. Simply put, the action is captured with a “shakey cam” style that gives an audience the frenetic nature of the action but sacrifices specificity. Recent movies like “Safe House” and “The Hunger Games” get the tag of incomprehensible in relation to their action sequences but with “Sleepless Night,” the action is precise and well mannered but at the same time giving the audience the bombastic feeling that “shakey cam” is used for.
The term for modern cinema using these techniques are referred to some as Chaos Cinema, a term coined by film blogger Mathis Stork. In his series of video essays, Stork points out the continuing change between traditional, methodical action to this new brand of action pacing and staging that involve more choppy, quick editing and a clever sound design. “Sleepless Night” is somewhere in the middle by giving reason and thought behind each shot and still delivering a more visceral thrill to the audience.
Also separating “Sleepless Night” from “The Raid: Redemption” is the emotional stakes and conviction with its characters. In “The Raid: Redemption” it’s more of a showcase of action and martial arts choreography, while “Sleepless Night” feels like a display of character moments and acting rather than action. The character of Vincent is caught in the middle of ruthless thugs, deceptive police authority and his own questionable ethics but what is absolute and what makes him endearing to the audience is his love for his kidnapped son.
“Sleepless Night” is one not to miss in theaters. It’s the type of film that should be seen in theaters rather than on a TV screen, simply for its big action sequences and touching father and son narrative. This is a special type of film that doesn’t come too often. Once that shines and delivers heartfelt emotions. This is a rarity in modern action films.