Vincent Must Die Is A Chilling Testimony To Our Paranoid Times

Vincent Must Die, which premiered at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival and was also screened at the 28th Busan International Film Festival, is a chilling testimony to our paranoid times. Read on!
Vincent Must Die Is A Chilling Testimony To Our Paranoid Times

Vincent Must Die Is A Chilling Testimony To Our Paranoid Times

While admiring this fearsome French film, some critics out West have commented on how funny the film is. Regrettably, I saw no humour in what the film’s protagonist goes through. The film premiered in the Critics' Week section at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. It was also screened at the 28th Busan International Film Festival in World Cinema section
Directed by Stéphan Castang, Vincent of the title is a graphic designer in Lyons, quite high up in the hierarchical ladder, lately broken up with his senior colleague with whom, we gather he is still friendly. All this is established within ten minutes into the narration.
And then an intern named Hugo walks to Vincent and slams Vincent’s face with his laptop, leaving him with a gash. But the real damage is to Vincent’s self-confidence. Why did Hugo attack Vincent so viciously?
The question could haunt any sane man for the rest of his life. This, as it soon becomes apparent, is only the beginning of Vincent’s Kafkaesque nightmare. Random people anytime anywhere jump on Vincent to injure him grievously.
These attackers don’t know him. They just feel like killing him. Written by Mathieu Naert, this is one of the best thrillers ever written. The sense of deep foreboding and a throbbing dread follows us throughout the wiry thriller.
There is no extra meat in the narrative. Even when the pace slackens, you know Vincent’s next assault could come from anywhere: why is that man staring at him from across the street? Or maybe the woman he meets and befriends at a eatery where he orders tons of food so he can hide in his father’s farmhouse, away from all civilization. Is she safe?
Vincent Must Die is simply chilling. Seldom have I felt so tense watching a thriller. Vincent’s macabre predicament where he cannot trust anyone to not turn murderous on him, is so Kafka, so Covid, and the ensuing distrust and paranoia. I wish the writer had not offered an explanation for what is happening. How about just letting it be? Wouldn’t that have been more mystifying and unsettling?
That said, Vincent Must Die is among the best thrillers in any language. That it happens to be in French only adds to the spark in the dark. There is a quality of innate mystery about French, even if you know the language there is a still something unfathomable to it. Add to it the screenplay that never pauses for breath, even when the characters do, and we have a remarkably involving thriller with performances that not only enhance the viewing experience but also give us much room to wonder if this could happen to us.
Karim Leklou as Vincent is such a compelling mix of bafflement and defiance, he is the hero and the victim at the same time. Interestingly Kerala-born-French actress Vimala Pons plays the female lead, a French waitress Margaux with her own problems who lives in a boat but hasn’t left the shore as yet, and is now on-the-run with a man whom anyone would kill, including Margaux herself.
Planning breaks while viewing this one? Don’t even think of it.
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