criticism of a French black hole

nicloux nor submissive

Whatever one thinks of his films, Guillaume Nicloux is an alien in the French landscape. In his successes (the detective trilogy Octopus, A private matter et That woman, The ends of the world), his failures (The Stone Councilturnip to 20 million euros with Monica Bellucci), and its WTF (The End with Guillaume Depardieu, Thalassotherapy with Michel Houellebecq, The Abduction of Michel Houellebecq always with him), he showed a certain appetite for genres. And even more to play with, not without maintaining an icy distance, like that of a scientist with his guinea pigs.

Tower therefore has nothing of a classic “genre film”, and there is no doubt that it will exasperate all the people who go to see it by imagining a little nightmare behind closed doors. Because despite its pitch close toAwait Further Instructions (a family imprisoned because of a mysterious dark matter that covered the house), and its spooky fog at the Fog or In the fogthe film is more interested in an abstract nightmare (social, existential), than to a graphic horror. It was a bit risky, and the result is (very) complicated.

Horror movie fan after the La Tour screening

without sun

Tower begins in the dark, with an eternal night that falls on the building, and swallows all that would dare to set foot there. And the film ends in blacker than black, with the desire to hang himself so much Guillaume Nicloux drives nails into the coffin of nihilism. This is the main quality of the film: its absolute coldness and its abyssal despair.

Rarely has a film created such a deadly and morbid atmosphere, where everything seems to stink and rot. Without light, without horizon, without air, everything dies slowly. People are going off the rails, their skins are falling apart, and obviously the whole social order is collapsing without a single window to the world to set the record straight (of order, of justice, of morality ) on time.

With its director of photography Christophe Offenstein (very far from their latest collaboration: the nightmare 100% sun of Valley of Love), Guillaume Nicloux takes pleasure in locking the public in this purgatory. Tower thus crosses as in apnea, and there is no escape, no hope, no light in this cage.

The tower: photo, Jules HouplainPollock in confinement


Problem: this clinical and sadistic distance annihilates everything in its path, and in particular the characters. In vain Guillaume Nicloux films them like a kid would follow ants through a magnifying glass, he gets bogged down in real-false intrigues, as if he did not entirely assume his misanthropic position (or that he was a prisoner of his own turn: the scenario, which takes less than 90 minutes).

He gives traumas, secrets and feelings to these characters. He sets up relationships, groups, micro-societies, to create a stormy climate and increase the pressure in the pressure cooker tower. Nothing abnormal, it’s the ba-ba of the genre. Except that he obviously has nothing to do with it. All these interpreter-puppets-clichés thus seem always lost, never assumed or dug, and even less directed.

The tower: photoTable grounds

As soon as it is necessary to go to the heart of the matter to stage an emotion other than mute despair, the film flirts with the ridiculous, the fault of clumsy writing (especially in the set up and the first scenes). And instead of staging his speech, which is already a little easy, even m’as-tu-vu, Nicloux gives the impression of filling the void and the time in the building; and without necessarily being aware of what he is painfully telling with these dealers and other clichés taken from the small panoply of the HLM.

It’s all the more sad that Guillaume Nicloux’s lack of interest in these humans and their little wars makes sense. In a film so radical, cruel and arid, it even made sense. But despite its simple and wicked concept, Tower does not hold up, probably because it hesitates between two films that struggle to coexist.

The only light at the end of the tunnel: the fine, simple and terrible, which pushes the limits of despair. It’s the ultimate blow, which resounds through an almost silent credits. Not enough to overlook the film’s weaknesses, but enough to make you want to stay on that delicious perfectly nightmarish aftertaste.

The Tower: Poster

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