From Nightmare to Tragedy


It was the end of August and, marooned in the silver-screen doldrums, I went to see what the French were up to. Beaucoup, as it turns out.

Point Blank, a crime thriller directed by Fred Cavayé, takes up that hoary suspense trope, the innocent man accused of a crime. You wouldn’t think anyone could do this fresh, but you’d be wrong. Timing is everything in a suspense movie like this one; both the major revelations that drive the plot and the individual scenes that flesh it out must be conducted as carefully as a symphony. Point Blank doesn’t miss a beat. The film hits the ground running, literally—the first scene slams us with the sudden appearance of a badly injured man in desperate flight from two pursuers—and never stops. Well, it does slow down, for one carefully calibrated moment. Immediately after that initial, frenetic chase scene, Cavayé hits the pause button to introduce us to a young couple, Nadia and Samuel, at home in their living room, canoodling in marital bliss following an obstetrical appointment and an ultrasound showing the beating heart of their soon-to-be-born infant. Nadia’s doctor has informed her she is prematurely dilated and must stay off her feet. Her uxorious husband eagerly pitches in, ready to wait on her hand...

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About the Author

Rand Richards Cooper, one of Commonweal's film critics, is the author of two works of fiction, The Last To Go and Big as Life.