More noise than signal


Republished from the show notes of my other site, Fuds on Film.

Former alcoholic Duval (François Cluzet) has been out of work for some time, after a booze induced breakdown at his former workplace. Seemingly out of the blue, he’s contacted by the mysterious Clément (Denis Podalydès) and offered a job in his ill-defined organisation. Needing the job, Duval doesn’t ask too many questions and takes it.

He’s directed to a shabby apartment outfitted with a typewriter and a selection of taped, wiretapped conversations that he’s tasked with transcribing, which he does for many uneventful days before meeting another of Clément’s employees, who soon takes an interest in one of transcripts and enlists Duval’s unknowing help in setting up business for himself.

This swiftly goes awry, a bungled robbery leaving Duval in the middle of the crosshairs of Clément’s organisation and the security services investigating Clément, trying to turn Duval into an informant with an accessory to murder charge as leverage. Who can Duval trust, and can he avoid having his love interest dragged into all of this?

No-one, and no, respectively, which I trust doesn’t spoil things as if you’ve seen any of these noir-ish thrillers, you’ll know which way the wind blows.

I quite enjoyed Scribe. It’s suitably mysterious for the most part, although I’d perhaps argue it’s a bit light on detail even at the end. There’s a coherent reason for what was going on given as part of an exposition drop at the end, but it’s pretty much irrelevant to our lead character, who’d need a couple of promotions to be even a pawn in the plans.

There’s a ream of unexplored questions about Clément’s organisation and how they’re in the position they’re in, which may well be best left unexplored, as I doubt there could be a remotely believable answer. Still, it does leave the impression that the most interesting points in the film have been left on the table.

However, the performance from François Cluzet is good enough to carry things through, and it’s propelled forward at a good enough clip by director Thomas Kruithof (his first feature, as best as I can gather) that the questions don’t occur until after the credits have rolled.

As I say, I enjoyed this, but not enough to recommend taking extraordinary steps to track it down except to any fans of the genre, for whom this will provide a pretty reasonable amount of entertainment.