Dominik Moll puts the card on the table from the credits of The Night of 12, thriller discovered out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival. However, the spectator will not know the end of the story of a young woman burned alive in the region of Grenoble. A dirty affair inspired by an authentic news item will defeat police officers embodied by Bouli Lanners and Bastien Bouillon, already remarkable as a policeman in only beaststhe director’s previous film.
“I was fascinated by the idea that police officers could remember a case that they did not solve and which will haunt them throughout their career”, explains Dominik Moll to 20 minutes. The spectator immediately shares the passion and frustration of his heroes for an investigation where suspects abound without anyone being implicated.
A moral judgment on the victim
Dominik Moll wrote his story in a chilling realism based on one of the cases mentioned by Pauline Guéna, in her book 18.3 – a year at the PJ, published in 2021 by Gallimard. “I was marked by the fate of a 22-year-old girl, who we could never explain who had killed her, or why, insists the filmmaker. It was also a way of talking about the relationship that men have when faced with violence against women. This aspect of the story takes on a poignant dimension when the victim’s best friend, in tears, accuses the investigators of making a moral judgment on the latter’s private life rather than finding out who killed her.
More than the cogs of the investigations, it is the personalities of the police officers on which the director centers his story and that makes it fascinating. The “old timer” who has seen it all and the still idealistic beginner come up against such trivial details as a capricious photocopier that put their nerves to the test. The girl’s more or less shady relatives and desperate parents are also very well defined with the collaboration of co-screenwriter Gilles Marchand, to whom we owe the excellent documentary series Gregory.
The fact that investigations of crimes committed against women are often entrusted to men is underlined by one of the characters in the film. “Masculinity and the way it is perceived are among the themes I wanted to explore,” says Dominik Moll. This story of men is also centered on their relationship to women. » The Night of 12 will remain as one of the most significant dates experienced on the Croisette in 2022.