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Score another win for Toronto’s Midnight Madness section, which has been on a roll this year with some really good movies.
The latest was Tuesday night’s screening of the French-language thriller Sleepless Nights, which is sure to get Hollywood’s remake machine in gear.
A sort of Die Hard in a nightclub (with a little Taken thrown in), the film follows a corrupt cop (Tomer Sisley) who with his partner steal some cocaine. Unfortunately, that causes the cocaine’s owner, a nightclub operator, to kidnap the cop’s son and demand an exchange. The cop, suffering from a knife wound obtained from the initial heist, enters the massive nightclub, where things go from bad to worse: he loses the cocaine, a second set of drug dealers show up, and internal affairs officers are infiltrating the joint to bring him down.
As many layers of reversals and action-packed scenes as the movie has (a drag-down, mano-a-mano fight in a kitchen is particularly effective), the story is really about the father and his 13-year old son.
“The idea was to make a film about fatherhood,” said director and co-writer Frederic Jardin, himself a father of a 12-year old, at the movie’s Q&A after its premiere at the Ryerson Theatre. “I wanted a story with a bad father who becomes progressively a hero in the eyes of his son – and his son becoming an adult – in the course of one night.”
The movie shot over 40 days in France, Luxembourg and Belgium and astonishingly used Canon 5-D cameras, which are photo, not movie cameras, according Jardin and Sisley, who was also on stage. (I’m sure it helped that Clint Eastwood’s cinematographer Tom Stern was doing the shooting.)
More than 500 extras were used for scenes at times – “I wanted the discoteque to have a chaos to it,” said Jardin – and the script was very detailed in describing the club’s different levels and many corridors.
Word is starting to spread about the movie, which wasn’t on too many folks’ radar when compared to some of other Midnight Madness titles (most were focusing on the acquisitions titles), but execs are starting to make calls about it and are trying to play catch up with those who were there last night.
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