PARIS: Five days of feverish chase, in search of the terrorists of November 13 in Paris, in a floor-to-ceiling thriller: “November”, one of the most anticipated films of the autumn, hits theaters Wednesday, with Jean Dujardin and Sandrine Kiberlain .
This new work by Cédric Jimenez (“Bac Nord”, 2.2 million spectators) retraces the deadliest attacks ever perpetrated on French soil, with 130 dead in one evening in Paris and Ile-de-France.
“A shock of incredible violence”, which makes this film “important”, said Cédric Jimenez during the presentation (out of competition) of the film at the Cannes Film Festival in May.
“Novembre” is one of the works that deal more directly with the period of the attacks, which the cinema begins to capture seven years later.
“Revoir Paris”, with Virginie Efira and Benoît Magimel, released in early September, adopted the victim’s point of view and imagined a fictitious attack in a brasserie, without showing the faces of the killers but only the legs. A third film, “You Won’t Have My Hate” with Pierre Deladonchamps, inspired by the testimony of Antoine Leiris, companion of a victim of the Bataclan attack, will be released on November 2nd.
Specialist in effective thrillers, Cédric Jimenez confides that he hesitated to address the November 13 issue, but was persuaded by the script by Olivier Demangel, which leaves the attacks themselves completely off-screen.
A point of view that also reassured Sandrine Kiberlain, who admitted her “reluctance” at the start to accept the role of Héloïse, head of the counter-terrorism subdirectorate of the judicial police, “in relation to the proximity of the facts”.
The screenwriter started the project in 2017, with the idea of ”telling the shock wave” that followed the drama. Result: a total immersion with the police, which begins in the middle of the evening of November 13 and ends five days later, after the assault on Saint-Denis, where the terrorists are taking refuge.
Stressed phone calls, police custody and muscle searches follow one another. Yawns and bloodshed sometimes betray the fatigue of the characters, under pressure to find the most wanted men in France before they commit more attacks.
Like the police after the attacks, the characters of “November” are in a “tunnel”, “at the service of the investigation”: the film shows nothing of their private life or their feelings.
The director wanted the characters not to share any intimacy with their own during this hunt, “because that’s really what they experienced 24 hours a day without interruption.”
The only scenes in which the emotion of the massacre of 13 November 2015 stands out are those of the interrogation of the survivors in the hospital.
The team itself had to “put its emotions aside,” he said, “for example when we played the video of President Hollande (during the assault on the Bataclan), he brought things up.”
Cyber surveillance, the police experience a few months after the Charlie Hebdo attack and the Hyper Cacher and technological tools are little compared to intuition, which allows the character of Inès (Anaïs Demoustier) to trust the key witness of the case, despite the implausibility of his statements.
This witness, played by Lyna Khoudri, and inspired by “Sonia”, the young woman who allowed the police to locate the November 13 commando chief and who now lives with the status of a witness protected under a false identity, has been at the center of an arm wrestling.
Dubbed Samia on screen, the character wears an Islamic veil, which doesn’t match reality, complained “Sonia”, who, after going to court, got a friendly award from the screen makers for providing this accuracy.