October 15, 2023

THE NIGHT OF THE 12TH and the Accidental Spoiler

2022 / 114 min
Review by Fluffy the Fearless😺

This French-Belgian co-production begins with a pre-title card and narration that provide percentages related to the annual number of murder cases in France. From a narrative standpoint, I think that was a mistake, since it practically spoils the outcome of the murder investigation featured in the film.

In The Night of the 12th, a young woman named Clare is walking home in the dead of night when she’s accosted by a masked man. He whispers her name once, douses her in flammable liquid and sets her on fire. After Clare’s charred body is found in park the next day, the police, led by Captain Yohan Vives (Bastien Bouillon), quickly determine that she probably knew her killer. 

The subsequent investigation reveals many suspects, all men with whom she had relationships. During questioning, none of them are particularly nice guys - and one is downright psychotic - nor do any appear to be all that bothered about Clare's death. Aside from her parents, the only person initially upset is her best friend, Stephanie (Pauline Serieys), who’s reluctant to reveal to police all men in Clare’s life for fear people would think she brought it on herself (which actually does lead to some personal conflict among those on the case).

Everybody in the office loves cat videos.
As the investigation drags on - for years - without any leads leading to an arrest, it becomes clear that the film is less about the case itself and more about how it affects those involved. A majority of the narrative focuses on Yohan and his older, more cynical partner, Marceau (Bouli Lanners). Clare's murder weighs heavily on both, but Marceau’s crumbling marriage further impacts how he does his job. 

While not really the thriller one might expect, The Night of the 12th is still an interesting journey, even a poignant one at times. The police procedural aspects of the plot are fairly straightforward and uneventful, which I suppose is the case when any criminal investigation is going nowhere. However, Yohan and Marceau are well-drawn characters, and we’re eventually more invested in their well-being than who actually committed this horrific crime.

The only unfortunate misstep is the prologue. That, couple with the morose overall tone of the film, tends to have viewers already expecting the inevitable conclusion, diminishing some of the tension.


“HARBOR” - Short film directed by Paul Marques Duarte, who had nothing to do with the feature, so its inclusion is a little perplexing. Still, it’s kind of interesting.

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