When Paris became the target of a series of attacks on November 13, 2015, the hunt for the assassins began immediately. Who was behind the massacres? And what are they up to next? After all, it’s not just about punishing them for the crimes, but also preventing others from happening. The pressure on the secret anti-terrorist unit (SDAT) headed by Fred ( Jean Dujardin ) is correspondingly high. Together with numerous colleagues from different departments, including Héloise ( Sandrine Kiberlain ), Marco ( Jérémie Renier ), and Ines ( Anaïs Demoustier ), he feverishly searches for an answer but has to accept a series of setbacks. But then Samia answers (Lyna Khoudri ) the police, claiming to know the whereabouts of the terrorists…
It has been almost seven years since France was shaken by parallel terrorist attacks in the capital. A look at contemporary French cinema shows just how much the Grande Nation is still caught up in this trauma. Of course, other titles have previously reported on these attacks. For example, in the In Therapy series, we meet several people who were all affected in one way or another by this event. And yet it is noticeable that at the end of the year several titles were launched that all somehow dealt with the topic. You don’t get my hate and peace, love and death metal tell of people who have to get on with their lives after the attacks and don’t know how to do it. November takes a completely different approach, turning the material into a thriller.
More precisely, the experienced director and co-author Cédric Jimene z ( Bac Nord – Bulwark Against Crime, The Incorruptible – Murderous Marseille ) in his version of the events focus on the people who hunt down the assassins and backers after the attacks made. The victims of these atrocities, the main characters in the titles above, emerge in November hard up. Only at the beginning some of them are allowed to testify. On the one hand, this serves to make the extent of the horror clear, especially since the attacks themselves are not shown. At the same time, these surveys also play a role in the investigations. When the men and women in the hospitals share their painful experiences, it is part of an attempt to find clues about the perpetrators.
Basically, almost the entire film consists of investigations. However, this does not mean action in the true sense. The story begins with a chase that fails with a bang. There is an explosive confrontation at the end. Otherwise, Jimenez provides us with a series of wiretapping scenes, sneaking around in someone else’s apartment, internet research, or even surveys. November is like classic spy thrillers. The big difference: There is no lonely hero who takes on evil alone. Instead, this is teamwork, at least in theory. Dozens if not hundreds of people swarm parallel through the city, reducing the thriller to a few searching for clues on behalf of the rest.
And even those are hardly worked out. You don’t learn anything about them, their backgrounds, and what drives them. Despite a prominent ensemble, we hardly develop a feel for the characters. There is simply no time for that. Even though the plot of November is rather manageable, the pace is high until the end. The thriller to be screened at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival celebrated its premiere, does not allow itself or the audience to rest. If we occasionally see an investigator who sleeps at work so as not to lose any time, then that is the maximum relaxation. It’s exhausting, even just watching leaves you exhausted afterward. But it’s also exciting. Even if the outcome is predetermined by historical events, one is still spellbound as to how everything will continue and end. It’s not as cathartic as other films about the attacks, and there’s no depth anyway. But if you don’t need that at all, but “just” want thrills, you’ve come to the right place.