Young and ambitious Captain Vivés has just been appointed group leader at the Grenoble Criminal Squad when Clara's murder case lands on his desk. Vivés and his team investigate Clara's complex life and relations, but what starts as a professional and methodical immersion into the victim's life soon turns into a haunting obsession.
Seattle International Film Festival 2023: Film #4
A more-than-competently executed detective thriller, brought off with enough flair and demi-sec humour to be entertaining. Yet, it eludes greatness in that it fails to introduce any broader themes (save, perhaps, an ambiguous reference to Frence budget cutbacks?), and the themes it does engage with are treated a little heavy-handedly. "I think there's something up in the relations between men and women," was a little on the nose the first time we are told it, but it was repeated a few minutes later, just n case we didn't get it. More problematic as a police thriller genre movie specifically though, is that it fails to properly integrate the primary detectives within the narrative of the crime itself; their only motivations for solving the murder being their innate drive and professionalism, neither of which is makes for terribly compelling subtext for a movie. And whilst there was a certain satisfaction in seeing a parade of terrible male suspects (each of whom could have murdered her), they seemed a little too caricatured as terrible avatars of modern masculinity. Plus, are we meant to believe that our "saintly" murder victim was such a reliably poor judge of character? Anyway, it was especially fun watching this with a US audience here in Seattle, as they were genuinely scandalised by the French authorities' casually blatant abuse of telephone surveillance.
The murder’s over-the-top cruelty and the withholding of any fittingly grandiose story behind it creates an eerie imbalance not only for Yohan and Marceau but for the film itself. […] But in an interesting development, once Yohan and Marceau see other detectives insinuate that Clara’s sex life caused her murder, the film seems to suggest that suspicion and hatred of women is so widespread here that misogyny is no longer useful as a sorting mechanism.
The investigation’s frustrating dead ends and years-long scope recall [David Fincher's] Zodiac. In both films, leads are run down with a diligent frustration, promising breaks quickly dissipate, and eventually the world moves on except for an obsessed loner who cannot give up the ghost. In The Night of the 12th, though, the filmmakers seem to have made the conscious decision to not bathe their world in a noir sheen.
As well-crafted as The Night of the 12th is, Yohan’s transition from uptight stickler in a murder mystery to slightly more morose uptight stickler striving to escape his obsession in a psychoanalytical message drama isn’t quite as interesting a trajectory as the filmmakers seem to think it is.
— Chris Barsanti (Slant)