Strange course that that of Giordano Gederlini. Author of a first feature film made in 2002 (Samouraïs) exhausted by critics, he more or less disappeared from the radar until 2019, when we discovered him co-writing Les Misérables, by Ladj Ly, Jury Prize at the Festival of Cannes. And here is the release of his second feature film, a thriller made in Brussels. On the bill, in the main role, the Spanish actor Antonio de la Torre, a figure familiar to the French public who appreciates the films of his compatriot Rodrigo Sorogoyen, master of Iberian neo-polar (El Reino, Madre…). Here he plays a solitary and silent Spanish refugee, who seems to carry all the pain of the earth on his shoulders, driver of a Brussels metro line passing through the Atomium.

A series of dry, opaque shots, bathed in a bluish light and an electronic composition by Laurent Garnier, initiates the story by retaining the plot rather than delivering it. A bloody young man who throws himself on the track as the metro passes by led by Leo Castaneda (Antonio de la Torre), whom the police will identify as his son. A police superintendent (Olivier Gourmet) who berates his daughter working under his orders (Marine Vacth) and threatens to withdraw the charge of an investigation. Leo returning from the morgue followed by two thugs. The same attacked at his home by a masked and armed man whom he manages to neutralize at the end of a bitter fight of which he masters, it seems, all the techniques.

A quadruple hunt

It’s around this time that you say to yourself, in your heart of hearts so as not to embarrass the neighbor: “Hey, this Leo, he doesn’t look like he’s been a subway driver all his life. ! Very good introduction therefore, dense, atmospheric, mysterious, arranged like a puzzle whose continuation of the story will slowly allow the spectator to put the pieces back together. Let’s do whatever it takes, so as not to spoil anyone’s fun. Leo has not seen his son for two years. The latter, converted to Islam, participated in a robbery that went wrong. The commissioner’s daughter has a love affair with the undercover cop in the gang of psychopaths.

That, basically, leaves a lot of grain to grind to the viewer, while the story depicts a quadruple hunt. That of Leo in search of the murderers of his son, that of the mobsters in search of the latter whom they suspect of having recovered the loot, that of the cops in search of the mobsters at the same time as the identity of the mysterious subway driver. All of this rolls on into the night, interweaves themes of filiation and tragedy with the thriller, but ends up fanning somewhat after a start that promised more.

No doubt because the central figure of Leo, with his aura and his mystery, somewhat eclipses the surrounding characters, whether cops or thugs, who, less elaborate, less complex, fail to arouse the same interest. The film is as if unbalanced, prevented from reaching the height that should have been its own. A film is there nevertheless, undeniably.