Black box: criticism of paranoid activity


After An Ideal Man in 2015, Pierre Niney reunited with director and screenwriter Yann Gozlan for a new thriller: Black Box. Place this time in the world of aviation, with an expert with a very sharp ear investigating plane crashes and starting to uncover potential conspiracies. Small success course, not to be missed from September 8th.

The last time a young and beautiful French face listened to a sad face, it was François Civil at Le Chant du loup in 2019. Pierre Niney followed suit on Black Box, with him also deeply listening. fine, but that’s not it. Between the two films, the same invisible threads of cinematic ambition, genre sense, and cogs of love in suspense are all too often (and foolishly) associated with Hollywood.

In Black Box, it’s about an accident in the Alps. Nothing remains of the plane, except for the black box which is clearly intact, and the mystery of the cause of this disaster. Inside the Bureau of Investigation and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA), Mathieu Vasseur listens to the case and gradually draws the thread of the investigation, which turns into a riddle, even in a conspiracy .

The chorus is famous for, and unsurprisingly, director Yann Gozlan cites Coppola’s Secret Conversations and De Palma’s Explosions among his references. The black box brings back to order fond memories of a certain paranoid cinema of the ’70s, with the solitary and vigilante hero, who opens Pandora’s box before being slowly swallowed up by the machines that overtake her. And under his (too) applied training style, Black Box was a small lesson in knowledge, which established Yann Gozlan forever as a first-rate director.

The first demonstration: a gentle force that forces a hero so that the public clings to him like a buoy in a storm. Pierre Niney’s talent certainly weighs on the balance, but because actors are the cogs in the black box machine. From the sound design that constantly lingers on the hero’s senses, to the slow movement of the camera to adjust to the boy’s piercing gaze, the film goes like a snorkel.

Between BEA, the world of finance and the press with Mediapart, the hero plunges deeper and deeper into murky waters, collecting pieces of the puzzle that seem inexorably engulfed in him. Boyfriends, bosses, colleagues, friends, strangers: everyone becomes suspicious because their keen hearing decodes the world and turns it into a sea of ​​doubts. To the point where the reflection itself becomes the enemy. The mechanics of screenwriters Yann Gozlan, Simon Moutaïrou, Nicolas Bouvet and Jérémie Guez are simple, but incredibly effective, even in their most obvious moments – an almost obligatory pitfall in such an exercise, especially in resolutions.

Despite Lou de Laage’s cantilever, with its almost artificial allure, the film impresses with its thoughtful mastery. The fun of finding the solution to this puzzle is immense, and fuels it until the last scene. Proof that no space is wasted in this Black Box, with two fine, well-run, thrilling hours.

Zoe Felix is ​​kidnapped in the Balkans by a madman in Captives, Pierre Niney is caught in a nightmarish spiral of lies in An Ideal Man, François Civil runs on a motorbike to take on gangsters in Burn Out: director Yann Gozlan is led by the genre’s clear taste for cinema. And if Black Box comes out as his best film, it’s because he seems to really digest the model. Not to get rid of it, but to have fun with the camera and staging it.

The intro sequence shots, which handle digital and off-screen tools with skill, are the start of a great movement of great efficiency and fluidity. From imaginary reconstructions of events to simple shots that turn to accompany the hero, Black Box testifies with every scene the desire for cinema. A cinema that seeks to reproduce recipes that are certainly familiar, but which soon impose itself as pure pleasure; especially in France, where too few producers and distributors, and therefore directors and screenwriters, ventured out.

Even as he films the public places of urban and contemporary thrillers (offices lit by multiple neon lights and screens, jungles in the middle of the night, disturbing basements), Yann Gozlan never seems to get lost in them. With camera movement or effects in Pierre Cottereau’s photos (the same ones that light up the abyss of Song of the Wolf), he gives this whole Black Box a playful dimension. And don’t hesitate to pack bsome perfect suspense and suspense scenes, intelligently playing out silence and unseen fear.

Finally, it’s impossible not to pay homage to composer Philippe Rombi’s incredible work. Primarily known for his collaborations with François Ozon, he signs a heady melody here, which recalls Michael Small’s magical themes in the ’70s with Alan J. Pakula (For Murder, Marathon Man, Klute). As far as sound is concerned, the music is the finishing touch that gives this simple yet cheerful Black Box a cinematic radiance.