Police procedurals have something to answer for.
This mainstay of television has taught us for decades that crimes can be solved in an hour – even less when you factor in commercials.
Real life is rarely this convenient.
According to a 2020 American study, only 11 percent of serious crimes in the U.S. result in an arrest by the police, and a paltry 2 percent result in a conviction.
Things aren’t that bad in Australia, but you can bet that solving crimes in any country isn’t as easy as it looks on TV.
So what happens when crimes go unsolved?
That’s exactly what the new French film Twelfth Night, which premiered at Cannes earlier this year, sets out to explore.
Franco-German director Dominique Mol found inspiration for his film in Pauline Guen’s weighty, 500-page non-fiction book detailing dozens of unsolved murders in France.
You don’t usually start a whodunit by letting the audience know there won’t be a “who,” but for Moll, it was crucial to the story he wanted to tell.
And this story centers on the real-life murder of a young woman in Grenoble, in the shadow of the French Alps.
Maul came across the crime in Guenna’s book and was immediately fascinated by the specifics—the way the victim’s love life became an integral part of the investigation, the many viable suspects, and some strange real-life events that took place over the years.
Taking elements from other cases described in Guenna’s book, Moll, who won a César Award (aka the French Oscar) for Harry, He’s Here to Help, created a fictional account centered around the lead investigator.
This investigator, played by Bastien Bouillon, becomes obsessed with the case, refusing to let it go even as his efforts to solve it are foiled at every turn.
“One of the things I loved about this case, as it’s described in the book, is that they don’t find the culprit, and what that does to the investigators, how they react to it,” says Moll. on a Zoom conversation with The West Australian.
“And when you show the audience a guy who committed a crime, in a way, it’s like saying, ‘OK, there was a problem, we found the culprit, so problem solved.’
“With this film, we wanted to go a little bit further than just one particular crime and instead talk about this old problem of violence that doesn’t get solved, especially because one crime is being solved.”
With this goal in mind, Maul took the story of one crime and extrapolated it into something that speaks to us on a much larger scale, challenging us to question the treatment of women in the justice system and to consider the emotional impact of criminal violence. the police take over.
“As a filmmaker, when you feel like every film you make can empower someone to respond, you can’t hope for more,” Mol says.
“If a film can provoke that a little bit and can make the male audience ask themselves questions — but I don’t believe in delivering messages or condemning this and that, but more in asking questions.
“So if some of the male audience is saying, ‘Oh, it’s okay that most of the violence is done by men,’ then yes, it’s just to raise those questions.”
Night of the 12th is already in cinemas.