Night Shadows

Writer-director Nasser Bakhti combs Geneva's mean streets in "Night Shadows," a serious but overwrought ensemble view of the affluent city's social margins and the jittery cops who deal with it.

With:
With: Hicham Alhayat, Diarra Damanta, Martin Huber, Madeleine Piguet, Gaspard Boesch.

Writer-director Nasser Bakhti combs Geneva’s mean streets in “Night Shadows,” a serious but overwrought ensemble view of the affluent city’s social margins and the jittery cops who deal with it. Though the film casts a sober view on African immigrants, its contrived theatrics stifle what could have been a rewarding depiction of how have-nots actually exist among so many haves, while policier elements are undercooked. Modest worldwide fest travels and local biz could make Bakhti’s name a bit better known in preparation for his next film.

Vet cop Hans (Martin Huber) and his hot-tempered second (Gaspard Boesch) tackle the night beat, where they’re fated to cross paths with three unfortunates: Algerian-born Momo (Hicham Alhayat), whose loneliness spills over into violence; heroin addict Claire (Madeleine Piguet), desperate for a fix; aspiring Malian soccer player Ade (Diarra Damanta), illegally working in an Italian restaurant. Bakhti’s characters are never allowed to breathe, diagrammed as they are in a scenario that suffers from too much meandering and too many plot manipulations. Fine nighttime lensing lives up to the English title, though the French one is more poetically apt.

Night Shadows

(Switzerland)

Production: A Frenetic Films release of a Troubadour Films presentation, in association with Metissages en Images, of a Troubadour Films production, in association with La Television Suisse Romande. (International sales: Troubadour Films, Geneva.) Produced by Nasser Bakhti. Co-producer, Philippe Berthet. Directed, written by Nasser Bakhti.

Crew: Camera (color,), Aldo Mugnier; editor, Beatrice Bakhti; music, El Hadj N'Diaye, Stimmhorn, Tiken Jah Fakoly; production designer, Ivan Niclass; costume designer, Francoise Nicolet. Reviewed at Downtown Film Festival, Los Angeles, Aug. 16, 2008. Original title: Aux frontiers de la nuit. French, German, Italian, Arabic dialogue. Running time: 111 MIN.

With: With: Hicham Alhayat, Diarra Damanta, Martin Huber, Madeleine Piguet, Gaspard Boesch.

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