The riveting French psychological thriller ‘Fever’ centers around two teenagers who unaccountably kill a random woman and seemingly get away with it. The drama marks the directorial debut of photographer Raphaël Neal, stars two mesmerizing performances from young actors Pierre Moure and Martin Loizillon and features a soundtrack from French pop singer Camille. Come on inside for details and the official trailer.
High school students Damien (Martin Loizillon) and Pierre (Pierre Moure) murder a random stranger one morning. Their goal is to test a theory they learned in their philosophy class that crimes need a personal motive in order for the criminal to feel guilty, but without a personal motive, there’s no feeling of guilt. The only person who can suspect them of the crime is Zoe (Julie-Marie Parmentier), a woman they bumped into as they dashed out of an apartment after the murder and left behind a glove that she picked up.
Based on the novel by Leslie Kaplan, ‘Fever’ works more as a character-driven, psychological drama than a riveting, plot-driven crime thriller a la Tell No One. Although you do hear the sounds of a crime being committed within the first minute, writer/director Raphaël Neal and Alice Zeniter avoid showing you images of the crime taking place, so they wisely leave it up to your imagination. Events don’t necessarily transpire precisely as you would predict they would, especially after one of the boys struggles to contain his guilty conscience while in class at one point. That unpredictability makes the film more engaging and fascinating for the most part except for the somewhat underwhelming, incomplete third act that leaves more to be desired. Fortunately, the performances by Martin Loizillo and Pierre Moure are both convincingly moving, so they somewhat compensate for the screenplay’s shortcomings when it comes to emotional depth.
‘Fever’ raises provocative issues regarding Hannah Arendt and her theory about Eichmann and “the banality of evil,” but it doesn’t have the teeth to delve into them enough so that you have a lot to digest by the time the end credits roll. It will, though, make you tempted to read more about Hannah Arendt’s controversial writing and to contemplate why she might be still relevant and controversial today. So, perhaps, a fitting double feature to go along with Fever would be Margarethe von Trotta’s Hannah Arendt.
‘Fever’ is now out on DVD in the original French version with English subtitles from Artsploitation.