Scribe (La mechanique de l'ombre)
Director: Thomas Kruithof
Cast: Francois Cluzet, Denis Podalydes, Sami Bouajila, Simon Abkarian, Alba Rohrwacher, Philippe Resimont
Genre: Political Thriller
Language: French with English subtitles
Country of Origin: France-Belgium 2016 88mins. (15)
Released by Arrow Films
Thomas Kruithof pays homage to past classic political thrillers in his feature debut, a taut, edgy, atmospheric, conspiracy thriller which places divided loyalties, double-cross and murder in the shadow of a manipulative political power struggle.
Duval (Francois Cluzet), middle aged, unemployed, burnt out, short of cash and with a love of the booze is surprised to be offered a job by the mysterious Monsieur Clement (Denis Podalydes). Duval fits the bill - apolitical, isn't an iPhone, iPad clicker, computers don't interest him and he's a loner, except for brief contacts with Sara (Aba Rohrwacher) whom he met at Alcoholics Anonymous. Duval will be a 9-6 man seated in a nondescript empty Paris apartment repetitively transcribing with a typewriter phone tapped conversations but it all changes when he picks up the murder of a Libyan business man who's the link between the French Government and the release of hostages. Gerfaut (Simon Abkasian), linked to Clement's shadowy right wing organisation appears on the scene, a break into a lawyer's office goes horribly wrong and Duval's sucked into the murky paranoid world of the DGSE's sanctioned dirty tricks.
Inspired by the 1980s Lebanon hostage crisis, and the power struggle between Prime Minister Jacques Chirac and the Socialist politician Francois Mitterand, the shadowy world of power politics remains manipulative and ever present.
With strong performances, a tight script, Alex Lamarque's camera offering a pervading sense of menace and nods to 'The Conversation,' (1974, Francis Ford Coppola) and 'Three Days of the Condor' (1975, Sydney Pollack), Kruithof is more Le Carre played out in the shadows of national government, than Jason Bourne. Duval's a man caught in a world he doesn't understand or like but he's in and the door's closed.