Director: Frédéric Mermoud
Starring: Emmanuelle Devos, Nathalie Baye, David Clavel, Diane Rouxel, Samuel Labarthe and Oliver Chantreau
‘Moka’ is the colour of a 1970s Mercedes which has killed an adolescent and is being hunted down by the mother of the victim, to find out who was behind the steering wheel.
The detective story is entirely from the mater dolorosa’s point-of-view, Diana Kramaer. She finds the car and decides to move to the small town where it is being sold. The owner is Marléne, a mysterious and elegant blonde woman who owns a beauty salon. Diane will insinuate herself in the beautician’s life to carry out her vengeance.
‘Moka,’ written and directed by Frédéric Mermoud, is based on the eponymous novel by Tatiana de Rosnay. The film adaptation begins with mystifying allure, as Emmanuelle Devos brilliantly portrays the determined mother who wants to take justice into her own hands. The cinematography by Irina Lubtchansky avails the atmosphere. However, once the mystery is revealed the film’s mode morphs into soap-opera.
The initial ambiguity of ‘Moka’ does enthrall: the feigned friendship between the distraught mother and the apparently courteous Marléne charges-up the spectator, who yearns to see the outcome of it all. But the payoff flops. It doesn’t provide the awaited catharsis, nor does it surprise sufficiently with a mind-blowing revelation. The epiphany is not electrifying.
Nevertheless the Franco-Swiss psychological thriller won the Variety Award at the 2016 Locarno International Film Festival; and was praised by several critics who compared Mermoud’s style to Chabrol and Hitchcock. Undoubtably ‘Moka’s’ prelude is promising, and the crescendo majestically builds up, but there is no grande finale.
Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi