The French thrillers used to be of great quality – just to avoid being groundless, let me remind you of “36” with Gerard Depardieu or the series with Jean Reno, “The Crimson Rivers”. Hence, when I first heard of “Mea Culpa”, the expectations were already quite winded up, but I experienced no regret nor chagrin – the new feature by Fred Cavaye is a solid piece of action with some drama flick going on, which raises its overall value.
The French crime drama tells a story of a former police officer Simon (Vincent Lindon), whose life has changed dramatically, when he committed a negligent homicide. When his only reason to exist – his son – is put into danger after being a witness of a mob’s execution, Simon returns to police-linked life. Once torn apart, the family of Simon reunites, when the mob casts a shadow on their lives. The investigation is officially conducted by Simon’s former partner, Franck (Gilles Lellouche), who agrees to help out the loving father. The case will also happen to be an opportunity for both men to deal with the haunting past and the sins they committed, which strongly influenced their lives.
Fred Cavaye’s film perfectly balances the psychological aspect of the two main characters, whose friendship breaks barriers of the past and the straightforward action-packed movie, filled with Luc Besson-like pursuits and an elaborately plotted intrigue. The director is in his elements, shuffling with the pace of the action and the drama fraction, giving field to a solid duo Lindon-Lellouche. “Mea Culpa” strengthens with minutes passing by, although there is a significant difference between the first half an hour and the rest of the movie.
My attention was also grabbed by a very subtle but well thought over soundtrack, composed by remarkable Cliff Martinez. The delicate sounds of piano sweetly harmonize with the pace of the film, whilst electronic-influenced parts perfectly build up the climax. Although it is not a memorable masterpiece on its own, which would brim with the competition of nowadays’ hero Zimmer or Morricone, still remains worth noticing.
The bad boys in leather jackets and two cops with some inconvenient cards of history in their lives seemed a bit cliche at the first glance, but all in all, Cavaye got me. His “Mea Culpa” stands for a pretty solid thriller, delivering a neatly-plotted script and a dynamic pace (but at the same time not tiring). And finally, it’s another proof that French cinema may have changed, but it still goes in a good direction – at least when it comes to crime films.