“You saw something you shouldn’t have,” said Simon to his son.
What I like best from French filmmakers is: they always have simple premise for movies, but they know how to put complexity here and there, along with beautiful visuals and excellent editing. If movies were language to them, then it’s completely French.
Mea Culpa (literally “my fault”, like in Catholic confession) is one fine example; it’s a formulaic French action-thriller flamed in such French spirit. At least, that’s what popped in my mind once I saw this one in Festival Sinema Prancis 2014 (a French movie fest held by IFI), pronto. It’s a well-paced action mixing up buddy cop theme with paternal care theme. With any director, such materials could be just any generic action, but, with directions from fashion-photographer-turned-director, Fred Cavayé, it gives a new insight.
There’s nothing new to the narrative: We are introduced to Simon (Vincent Lindon) and Franck (Gilles Lellouche), two buddies and two Toulon city cops. Six years ago, they killed a family in a car crash; Franck survives without any loss, but things get a little rough for drunken Simon, as he loses his job and, eventually, his family. Frank is still a sympathetic cop, working just like a cop, and he always cares to Simon and his separated family. Meanwhile, Simon, now, works as a security officer, becomes a troubled man who pays some visit to his son,Théo, every weekend.
Out of sudden, a twist of fate forces these buddies to work together again. During a matador show, Théo witnesses a murder done by some Serbian gangsters; and now, those perilous men are hunting Théo down, while witness protection is not yet settled. As a family man, Simon must act to protect his son as well as to track down those who hunt his son. While, Franck must act to assist his old friend for a redemption of something from their past.
Cavayé enhances the actions, in a dose that it becomes too violent; it works in some austere chase scenes (which becomes the main menu in Mea Culpa) over the alleys, the bar, the street, even the train. The director also tries many kinds of shots to make build the tense in every scene (even in a dream-like scene); he varies the beauty within the gritty action-thriller. To make balance with it, regrettably, Cavayé diminishes some logic (Come on! Which foreign gangsters will kill a lone rival in a public toilet?), but at least, it works to make things happen.
Although, Mea Culpa is being too draggy with some ‘unimportant’ dialogues and family melodrama, it’s still a well-acted movie with convinving set-pieces. It’s a total homage to old-school action flicks with French touch. Bravo! Très bien!
Mea Culpa (2014)
Crime, Action, Thriller Directed by: Fred Cavayé Written by: Fred Cavayé, Guillaume Lemans Starred by: Vincent Lindon, Gilles Lellouche, Nadine Labaki, Max Baissette de Malglaive Running Time: 90 mins Rated R for violence and some language