The Night of the 12th (2022)

The Night of the 12th (2022)

A shallow procedural that attempts to grapple with systemic misogyny while being oblivious to its own



Belgium, France
English, French
Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Bastien Bouillon, Bouli Lanners, Camille Rutherford
114 min


This six-time César winner is, unwittingly, a depressing example of male mediocrity itself.

What it's about

A police captain is tormented by his fruitless investigation into the brutal murder of a young woman.

The take

The opening titles of this French procedural drama explicitly tell us that the crime it chronicles will go unsolved, confessing that it’s about one of the approximately 160 murder cases that police don’t crack each year. An ambitious and intriguing opener — suggesting that, in the absence of a clean resolution, the film will nonetheless offer us something equally compelling, as Zodiac does. 

In following the investigation of the brutal murder of 21-year-old Clara (Lula Cotton-Frapier) — for which the police interrogate various of her exes, all misogynistic potential murderers in their own ways — the film seeks to explore the society-wide “problem between men and women” that has given the police its surplus of suspects. Alas, it’s much more interested in the psychological impact cold cases have on policemen like frustrated captain Yohan (Bastien Bouillon). There’s something deeply ironic about making a movie about the systemic dehumanization of women just to center male perspectives, especially when their only insight into the epidemic of toxic masculinity is Yohan’s clunky “We can’t find the murderer because all men killed Clara.” The film’s treatment of the victim herself — incurious and downright gratuitous in the depiction of her murder — cements it as a shallow, un-self-aware, and failed attempt to reckon with a subject that deserved its full focus.

What stands out

The most interesting character in the film is Yohan’s middle-aged partner Marceau (Bouli Lanners), a workaholic on the brink of divorce as a result of his wife’s infidelity. From his gruff aura and troubled home life, it'd be easy to assume he’d be one of the worst culprits in the police department’s band of boorish victim-blamers, but neither Marceau nor Yohan is anything of the sort. While the former is left to exist as a hollow perfect feminist hero, though, Lanners makes up for that central lack of depth with his rich characterization of a man genuinely agonized and infuriated by all the apathy he witnesses during the investigation. It’s to its own detriment that The Night of the 12th sidelines him partway through its runtime.


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