Medicin de Nuit (Night Doctor) is a film about, well, a titular doctor, Mickael Kourtchine (Vincent Macaigne) who drives to his patients at night. Sometimes he treats people with addiction issues and crosses ethical boundaries. He does that by prescribing them Subutex, which is an opioid. But that’s because his pharmacist cousin Dimitri (Pio Marmai) is putting him up to it. Eventually, reluctantly doing things is going to make fictional characters want to quit.
Night Doctor, then, ups it game when Dimitri asks Nickael to prescribe Fentanyl to his clients with addiction issues. Mickael obviously says no but Dimitri already told enough people and those people are asking him for the drug. The film then spends its running time with montages of subtly neon cool Paris, the city where Mickael walks and drives around. It also flashbacks to the family members he’s leaving behind as he does his work.
Night Doctor can get a little formulaic at times as Mikael switches from dealing with Dimitri, facetiming his wife Sasha (Sarah Le Picard), and treating his clients. Some of his clients are nice, running the gamut of people of all ages and races. But sometimes it feels like these clients are getting stereotypically worse. It shows that in the one scene where a biker throws a syringe at him. That encounter starts a chase scene.
The film, in fairness, shows that the opioid crisis is just as much a French problem as it is a North American one. And it blends national concerns with personal ones in better ways than I’ve seen in recent festival entries. What’s specifically interesting here is how it shows the shifting power dynamics between Mikael and the people within the drug ‘underworld’. The performances and the camerawork are great and the script sticks its landing.
Stream Medicin de Nuit here.