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The Crossing (La Traversée): Film Review

 The Crossing (La Traversée) Film Still - H 2012

The Bottom Line

Tortuous plotting, thin characters dim lights of psychological thriller.

Director

Jérôme Cornuau

Cast

Michael Youn, Emilie Dequenne, Fanny Valette 

Jérôme Cornuau's psychological thriller follows the sudden, unexplained disappearance of a child.

The Crossing is a psychological thriller that starts with every parent's nightmare, the sudden, unexplained disappearance of a child, and plunges into a realm of paranoia and dark fantasy in which the spectator struggles to make sense of a tangle of leads and baffling interventions. The premise could have made for gripping drama in more capable hands than those of director Jérôme Cornuau, but there's little real nourishment and it's hard to see the movie finding an audience outside its home territory.

When eight-year-old Lola Arendt (Pauline Haugness) goes missing while on a family holiday on the Scottish island of Bac Mor, her parents are devastated. Martin (Michael Youn) takes to the bottle and his marriage to concert cellist Sarah (Emilie Dequenne) collapses. Two years later, Lola shows up in exactly the same spot where she vanished and Martin returns to the island to collect her. She is in good health but appears to have lost the power of speech. On the ferry to the mainland she is befriended by a mysterious young woman in a blond wig and fishnet tights who presents herself as the rock star Norah Kross (Fanny Valette). Then an electrical storm forces the ferry to return to the island where the rest of the action (or rather, Martin's inner torment) is played out.

Jean-Paul De Zayetijd's excellent cinematography, playing off the leaden skies, the sombre landscapes and swirling mists of the Hebrides islands, makes manifest the relation between the scenery and Martin's states of mind but is unable to illuminate the convolutions of the plot.

It's not giving too much away to say that the movie's denouement hinges on a sudden revelation by Lola in which we learn of a psychiatrist's manipulations, and that Cornuau's influences would seem to include M. Night Shyamalan's ghost story The Sixth Sense.

The movie has its moments of interest, mostly visual, but the characters lack the substance and consistency required to carry the spectator through the obscurities of the plot. It's a moot point as to whether this is due to an inadequate screenplay or the unease of the cast - Youn, well-known in France as an exuberant comic actor, never quite convinces as a distraught father and Valette sails close to caricature, while the normally admirable Dequenne is given little to work with. The result is that by the time the labored closing exposition comes round, the spectator may well be past caring.

Release date: Oct. 31, 2012
Production companes: Les Films du 24, Samsa Films, Artemis Productions
Cast: Michael Youn, Emilie Dequenne, Fanny Valette, Pauline Haugness, Jules Werner
Director: Jérôme Cornuau
Writers: Jérôme Cornuau, Alexandra Deman
Photography: Jean-Paul De Zaeytijd
Producers: Yves Marmion, Jani Thiltges, Patrick Quines
Production design: Régine Constant
Editor: Brian Schmitt
Music: André Dziezuk
Sales: TF1 International
No MPAA rating
Running time: 97 minutes.