Saturday, May 7, 2022

The Wolf's Call (Le Chant du loup)

"The Wolf's Call" (2019 Le Chant du loup) follows a unique niche, submarines in combat.   Over the years I have enjoyed "Das Boot" (1981), "The Hunt for Red October" (1990), "Run Silent Run Deep" (1958).  They have the usual tension buildup, but they are isolated, under water, at the mercy of bombs or torpedoes and in cramped claustrophobic conditions.

It is listed as a sci-fi film, but is so realistic I am unable to tell what sci-fi is left after all the modern technology.

The main protagonist, Chanteraide is an AWA or acoustic warfare analyst at a relatively low rank.  His hearing is very sensitive to help identify ships and weapons of both allies and enemies.  He detects what he feels is a deception and is able to prove to superiors they were about to make a mistake.  Towards the end of the film his credibility has risen and he is involved in some critical military decisions.  One example of his sensitivity is demonstrated when his girl friend approaches him from behind and he is able to grab her hands as she tries to surprise him.

A key plot development is when an unexpected missile is sent to the free world and the protagonist is able to determine it does not contain the expected nuclear warhead.  It is concluded that the missile had been launched by a third party, most likely a terrorist group wanting to start a nuclear conflict.  Other delicate decisions have to be made under very stressful circumstances, but Chanteraide is able to overcome some difficult rigid protocols.  

The plot moves forward with lots of deception involving international forces as terrorists try to force the issue.  You watch movies like this because you like the tension and this one delivers.  The enjoyment has been engineered by a very capable crew. 

Antonin Baudry became the writer and director after an unusual path.  He graduated as an engineer for bridges.  He also earned a degree in literature that allowed him to become a cultural counsellor which he did at the French Embassy in Washington, DC and associated with their Embassy in Madrid, Spain.  Utilizing his diplomatic experience he used a pseudonym to write a graphic novel (comic).  A sequel earned a national award and he revealed his identity.  His comic was used for a film, "The French Minister" in 2015.  He had a dream to be a film maker and "Le Chant du loup" was his big chance.  He was nominated for a Cesar Award  for a first feature. 

At moments this film has upped tension found in other submarine movies.  One of the ways is the use of sound.  I watched and listened off a DVD and can only imagine the sound effects on the big screen, but the mere fact that life and death decisions were made on the basis of very subtle sounds generates a lot of anxiety.

The Cesar awards (the Oscars of France) awarded this film top prize for sound.  Not something I have appreciated in the past, but the producers assembled some of the best.  Sharing the award were sound editors Nicolas Cantin  ("The Chorus" 2004), Thomas Desjonqueres ("The Ghost Writer" 2010, "The Past" 2013), Raphael Mouterde ("Lord of the Rings" 2002 "Mood Indigo" 2013,  Clouds of Sils Maria" 2014), Olivier Goinard  ("Mustang" 2015) and Randy Thorn ("Forrest Gump" 1994,"The Revenant" 2015).

Alain Attal,  one of three producers with other productions including  "Tell No One" (2006),"The Concert" (2009), "Little White Lies" (2010) and "Polisse" (2011).

Ardavan Safaee another producer has since been executive producer for Oscar winner, "CODA" (2021) .  

Jerome Seydoux still another producer  had been involved "The Scapegoat" (2013), "Marius" (2013), "Fanny" (2013)  He was an executive producr for "Snowden" (2016) and CODA (2021)

Francois Civil carried the weight of the film as the protagonist Chanteraide.  Started as a child actor in 2005.

Omar Sy played a submarine captain.  He won a Cesar and many other awards for "The Intouchables" (2011) the richest  French film at the time.   He went on to "Mood Indigo' (2013), "Samba" (2014), "Burnt" (2015), "Jurassic World" (2015) and "Lupin" (2021).  A big international award winner who learned English watching American television.

Mathieu Kassovitz played a high level commander.  He is noted as an actor, writer, director, producer and editor.  Some of his films include "La Haine" (1995), "Amelie" (2001), "Munich" (2005) and "Rebellion" (2011).  He has won Cesar awards and at Cannes.

Reda Kateb played another commander.  He has appeared in  "A Prophet" (2009) and "Zero Dark Thirty" (2012),

Paula Beer played the hero's girlfriend.   She is German, but also fluent in French.  Her credits include "Frantz" (2016) and "Never Look Away" (2018).

A top notch submarine thriller with an excellent cast and crew. 

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