R.I.F.: Film Review

Textbook policier lacks punch.

Yvan Attal, Pascal Elbe and Valentina Cervi star in director Franck Mancuso's French cop thriller.

Looking more haggard than ever, actor Yvan Attal once again delves into the role of a tortured anti-hero in the French cop thriller, R.I.F. Unfortunately, there’s only so far that the talented star of Rapt can take this strictly by-the-book policier, which marks an underwhelming sophomore effort from flic-turned-filmmaker Franck Mancuso (Counter Investigation). Late August StudioCanal release earned little fanfare at home, and should see its brightest days in Euro ancillary.

Like its straightforward title (an acronym for the official form used to report a missing person in France), there’s something all too routine in this story of a burnt-out detective, Stephane Monnerau (Attal), whose wife, Valerie (Valentina Cervi), disappears while they’re en route to a much-needed vacation in the French countryside. Forced to deal with a dubitative gendarme (Pascal Elbe, no smiles) who believes that Valerie may have taken off on her design, the frantic Monnerau tries to lead a one-man investigation, breaking the rules and busting heads until he winds up on the run himself.

If the rogue cop scenario has been done umpteenth times (including in Olivier Marchal’s much edgier 36th Precinct, which Mancuso wrote), the film adds a few intriguing twists by placing Monnerau out of his element and into a creepy, rural enclave where his Parisian attitude can only carry him so far. Although this gives the opening reels some momentum, the plot soon waters itself down into what would normally comprise a single episode of The Shield, and its ultimate resolution is the kind of, er, cop-out that nearly wipes out all that preceded it.

Playing a character who, along with a decent shower and shave, could definitely use some nuance, Attal (Munich, Leaving) offers up an intense but one-note performance which gains little traction as the narrative runs its course. Combined with Mancuso’s standardized direction, which relies way too much on Louis Bertignac’s schmaltzy guitar score to provide emotional weight, the result is a conventional, occasionally suspenseful affair that feels like it was made for the small screen.

Opened: In France, Aug. 31
Production companies: Babe Films, StudioCanal, France 2 Cinema, Epheme Productions
Cast: Yvan Attal, Pascal Elbé, Valentina Cervi, Armelle Deutsch, Eric Ruf, Pascal Elso
Director: Franck Mancuso
Screenwriters: Franck Mancuso, DOA
Producers: Fabio Conversi, Patrick Gimenez
Director of photography: Thomas Hardmeier
Production designer: Emile Ghigo
Music: Louis Bertignac
Costume designer: Nathalie du Roscoat
Editor: Jennifer Auge
Sales Agent: StudioCanal
No rating, 95 minutes