Gritty, procedural crime dramas aren’t for everyone, and while there are several reasons for this, there are two big ones. The first, is they sometimes show a dark side to law enforcement, with characters who may not be the most likable. Unfortunately, these days such things are all too prevalent in our everyday lives. The other reason, and arguably the biggest one, is they don’t always have a nice little ending. Not everything gets wrapped up in a bow. The Night of the 12th fits the second reason. And even though it may not have the most satisfactory of endings, it’s a compelling look into the lives of the police officers investigating a horrific murder.
On the surface Clara (Lula Cotton-Frapier) seems like a typical teenager who is full of energy and happiness. But then, she’s brutally set on fire and murdered while on her way home from a party. And the policemen in charge of the investigation start to discover that there is more to her than meets the eye. It’s through this secretive side of her life that they start to uncover a network of jilted men. These men have their own motives for killing her. It’s up to a young detective named Yohan (Bastien Bouillon) to pour through all the clues. Those clues could theoretically help him solve the case. But he quickly discovers a grim truth. That the closer he thinks he comes to finding the murderer, the further away he truly is.
While The Night of the 12th‘s plot may revolve around a murder, that’s not what it’s about. The film really is a glimpse into the lives of the policemen who try to solve difficult cases, and the effect the ongoing failure has on their lives. It’s a fascinating look at how cold cases get into their heads, and define them. Like 2007’s Zodiac, The Night of the 12th is about obsession and false leads, and how it wears policemen down over time.
Another interesting theme throughout the movie is how the police are an all boys club, with a female officer not joining them until near the end of the movie. It really gives the movie a whole new perspective when that happens. Another character even makes a comment how it’s interesting that men commit the majority of murders. And most of the time it’s men trying to solve them. The film highlights this by how the officers talk about the victim. They objectify her when they are trying to cool themselves down.
The Night of the 12th is a slow burn. Many viewers may not feel a sense of satisfaction that the cold case remains just as cold when it’s over. If, however, they go into the movie looking for a glimpse into the lives of the officers investigating these cases they will find out how frustrating it is for them. This is especially true when their obsession goes unresolved. They find that A doesn’t always lead to B. And just how badly that lack of solution can get into your head in the long run.
- Rated: NR
- Genre: crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
- Release Date: 5/19/2023
- Directed by: Dominik Moll
- Starring: Bastien Bouillon, Bouli Lanners, Lula Cotton-Frapier
- Produced by: Barbara Letellier, Carole Scotta, Caroline Benjo
- Written by: Dominik Moll, Gilles Marchand, Pauline Guéna
- Studio: Haut et Court