A film noir with a realistic edge
by Boyd van Hoeij
- Murder, investigation, and well-hidden secrets. A dive into the dark side of Luxembourg in a powerful and very realistic film noir.
After several short documentary subjects about social issues in the Grand Duchy and a non-fiction feature about the descendants of Luxembourg immigrants in the United States, Luxembourg, USA, Luxembourg director Christophe Wagner makes the jump to fiction for his feature Blind Spot [+see also:
interview: Christophe Wagner
But though the film’s story is entirely fictional, created with co-writer Frédéric Zeimet, and the film clearly places itself in the tradition of thrillers and films noirs, Wagner has taken something of his documentary background with him, giving Blind Spot a harshly realistic edge, especially in the squalid backdrop against which the police intrigue develops.
The main plot revolves around Olivier (former Luxembourg Shooting Star Jules Werner), a moody and touchy Luxembourg policeman whose brother, who’s also with the police, is found brutally murdered at the start of the film.
The enigmatic Inspector Hastert (veteran actor André Jung, Little Secrets [+see also:
film profile]), Olivier’s direct boss, investigates the murder and though there’s a family link to the victim, Olivier is also assigned to work on the case, much to the chagrin of one of Olivier’s female colleagues (Nicole Max).
The investigation turns up several leads that point in the direction of the milieu of Luxembourg Central Station, a somewhat seedier part of Luxembourg City where prostitution and drug use are commonplace.
But both Olivier and Hastert also have secrets of their own, secrets that Wagner and Zeimet gradually reveal as the intrigue develops and, to stay in film noir parlance, the plot thickens.
What’s impressive is the way the film takes several carefully planned back-stories and slowly unveils little snippets of them even as they are braided together into one convincing tapestry.
Of great help in grounding the story in both a realistic setting as well as in a specific crossbreed of the thriller and noir genres is the oft-penumbral camerawork of Jako Raybaut; the foreboding orchestral score of André Mergenthaler and the superlative production design of Françoise Joset, with its seamy night-time and often rain-swept locations.
As the narrative unfolds and secrets float to the surface, the viewer can’t help but notice, in true noir style, how the darkness of the setting is but a reflection of the inner gloom and obscurity of the characters that populate it.
Blind Spot was produced by Claude Waringo for Luxembourg outfit Samsa Film and was co-produced by their Belgian partner, Patrick Quinet at Artémis Productions. The Luxembourg Film Fund, the Media programme’s Slate Funding, ALGOA Luxembourg and the Belgian Tax Shelter provided financial backing for the project.
Since its release at the end of September, the film has been a huge commercial and critical success in the Grand Duchy, where it’s still playing in cinemas now and is quickly approaching 20,000 admissions, a very impressive number in a country of little more than half a million inhabitants.