A hard-up ex-accountant gets a mysterious new job transcribing taped phone conversations in this French political thriller. For uptight white-collar worker Duval (François Cluzet), financial salvation seems to be at hand: it’s such an easy gig, what could possibly go wrong? For one thing, he’s never quite sure who his suavely enigmatic boss (a sleek Denis Podalydès) is actually working for, and when he overhears what sounds exactly like a secret service assassination, he suspects he’s getting in over his head.
Although there are historical antecedents to the film’s shadowy plotting, Thomas Kruithof’s debut feature doesn’t make it seem real enough to deliver fully on promises of nerve-tightening tension and ideological outrage. That said, the director has clearly made a profitable study of classic Nixon-era celluloid paranoia, like ‘The Conversation’ and ‘The Parallax View’, showing an assured feel for sinister parking garages and insidiously threatening public spaces. Add a brilliantly nervy electronic score from Grégoire Auger, and you’ve got a movie which really looks and sounds the part, even if the ever-reliable Cluzet can’t do much to integrate the central suspense thread and ploddy romantic asides.