Film & TV

Alliance Française French Film Festival: Black Box

This taut air-crash investigation thriller stars Pierre Niney.

A scheduled flight from Dubai to Paris, in a new state-of-the-art aircraft, suddenly drops from the skies, killing everyone on board. Is it terrorism? Human error? A technical fault? These are the answers a team of air-crash investigators needs to find. Pivotal to that investigation is Mathieu. Due to hyper-sensitive hearing, his main job is listening to the cockpit recording, picking up the slightest sounds, changes in tone or pitch, and distant background noises. When this particular crash is very quickly “solved”, Mathieu senses that something isn’t right, and continues to investigate on his own.

Written and directed by Yann Gozlan, Black Box is a classic investigative thriller, revolving around an enigmatic and sympathetic protagonist. Pierre Niney, whose break-out role was as Yves St Laurent, stars as Mathieu. Niney gives a controlled performance, showing us a man riddled with self and professional doubt, yet still sure of his own instincts. Lou de Laâge stars as the aircraft safety certifier, whose marriage to Mathieu comes under pressure over the investigation.

Despite its two-hour length, Black Box keeps the tension going. Much of the attraction of this film is the fascinating detail around air crash investigation. Gozlan has not stinted on authenticity, giving art director Patrick Schmitt a huge job, which he pulls off brilliantly.

Interestingly, the fundamental story, as in the solution to the air crash, is exactly the same as season one of the British TV series, Departure. There doesn’t seem to be an obvious, creative connection between the two. Is it merely a coincidence? Another mystery to add to the one on screen!

Black Box is currently showing as part of the Alliance Française French Film Festival at Palace Nova Eastend and Prospect.

Click here for screening times.

A thrilling slow-burn 3.5 stars

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