'Dark Inclusion': Film Review

Courtesy of Les Films Pelléas
A visually striking heist thriller.

A young man vows revenge against his diamond-dealer relatives in Arthur Harari's thriller.

A young criminal seeks revenge on his diamond-dealer family for doing his late father wrong in Arthur Harari's neo-noir thriller which marks his feature directorial debut. Featuring an excellent performance by Niels Schneider (Heartbeats, I Killed My Mother) in a career-stretching role, Dark Inclusion boasts assured visual style even if its pace sometimes lags. The film recently received its U.S. premiere at the  Film Society of Lincoln Center's Rendez-Vous With French Cinema festival.

Schneider plays the lead role of Pier, who returns to his native Antwerp after the death of his estranged father, who had been cut loose and left impoverished by his brothers and nephews. Determined to get even, Pier insinuates himself back into the family enterprise, starting out with low-level tasks and slowly working his way into his relatives' good graces. He eventually gets caught up in the power dynamics between his uncle Joseph (Hans-Peter Cloos) and his cousin Gabi (August Diehl), who have very different ideas about the company's future, and finds himself increasingly attracted to his cousin Louisa (Raphaele Godin), with inevitably messy results.

Meanwhile, Pier plans for an elaborate caper with the help of his ex-con mentor Raschid (Hafed Benotman) and his criminal cohort Kevin (Guillaume Verdier), even as the convoluted plotting slowly reveals shifting loyalties and alliances.

Incorporating such real-life events as the large-scale takeover by Indian families of the Antwerp diamond trade from Orthodox Jews, the screenplay co-written by the director with Vincent Poymiro and Agnes Feuvre displays a keen insight into its milieu. But average moviegoers will be less interested in the film's sociological elements than its thriller aspects, with Harari keeping the suspense at a simmering boil and mounting the elaborate robbery sequence with impressive finesse. He's also elicited terrific performances, especially from Schneider, dampening his heartthrob looks with slicked-back hair and a sleazy demeanor; Diehl, as the heir-apparent who reveals a significant vulnerability; and Cloos, as the stern, malevolent patriarch.  

The thriller set against the backdrop of the diamond trade may not be flawless, but it still shines brightly.

Venue: Rendez-Vous with French Cinema
Production: Les Film Pelleas, France 2 Cinema, Savage Film, Frakas Productions, Screen Flanders, CNC, Eurimages
Cast: Niels Schneider, August Diehl, Hafed Benotman, Han-Peter Cloos, Raphaele Godin, Raghunath Manet, Jos Verbist, Buillaume Verdier
Director: Arthur Harari
Screenwriters: Arthur Harari, Vincent Poymiro, Agnes Feuvre
Producers: Phillipe Martin, David Thion
Production designer: Veronique Sacrez
Editor: Laurent Senechal
Costume designer: Sophie Lifshitz
Casting: Cynthia Arra, Stephane Batut

Not rated, 116 minutes

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