Lucas Belvaux’s chilly new film—the title is French for “kidnapping”—is based on the 1978 case of Edouard-Jean Empain, a French-Belgian industrialist who was seized and held for two months. After aggressive police action, Empain was released without any ransom being paid—but minus a finger. Belvaux takes the real-life scenario, including details such as the sliced-off digit and Empain’s confinement in a tent put up inside a tunnel hideaway, and crafts an evenhanded procedural that becomes a not entirely persuasive parable of power and emasculation.
Fellow actor-director Yvan Attal plays Stanislas Graff, second-generation manager of an old-school investment firm, who is introduced breezing into a meeting with the French president and then a rendezvous with an appreciative mistress. His wife is the eminently respectable Anne Consigny, mother of two daughters; life is so haute bourgeois it hurts. Stanislas learns just how much it can hurt one day when masked men whisk him away to a secret location, and the police, the press (revealing his gambling and adultery), and possibly his own colleagues and lawyer each pose different threats to his freshly conditional existence.
Still best known here for his 2002 trilogy of genre-refracted tales, Belvaux establishes the professionalism of the kidnappers and observes the poker-faced boardroom violence of Stanislas’s firm. A late attempt at Chabrolian irony doesn’t take, but the story is entertainingly tense while it lasts.
© 2011 by Nicolas Rapold