When unemployed Duval (François Cluzet) is offered a job transcribing phone calls for a suspiciously vague “security firm”, he blindly accepts, desperate to prove his worth in the world and get back to a life of stability. His is a life of rituals, both at work and at home. From making coffee in the morning to completing jigsaw puzzles at night, Duval’s days are structured in a way to stop himself falling back into unhealthy habits.
Obviously, things do not go smoothly for Duval in his new job as he begins to unravel a whole world of political upset, finding himself the middle man in a terrifying situation. Scribe may not be the most original of stories, but director Kruithof lets it all unravel in such a carefully guided way that you find yourself completely absorbed within the first few minutes. The sickly yellow lighting and monotonous beiges and greys only heighten the level of general unease felt throughout, with paranoia on the rise at every turn.
The dialogue throughout is tight and succinct, with Kruithof instead leaning heavily on Cluzet to do his thing and own the show while not saying very much at all. Cluzet is truly mesmerising throughout, perfectly portraying a man who unwittingly finds himself completely out of his depth and desperate to survive.
Undeniably influenced by 1970s spy dramas, Scribe is wonderfully stylised and meticulously crafted, but some of the twists and turns can be guessed about five minutes before they happen. That’s not to say there aren’t some shockingly brutal moments, but sometimes you get the feeling that you may have seen the exact storyline elsewhere.
At just 91 carefully constructed minutes, this taut thriller showcases a stunning lead performance from Cluzet and a gripping storyline that keeps you hooked until the final showdown.
CAST: François Cluzet, Denis Podalydès, Sami Bouajila, Simon Abkarian, Alba Rohrwacher
DIRECTOR: Thomas Kruithof
WRITERS: Yann Gozlan, Thomas Kruithof, Marc Syrigas, Aurélie Valat
SYNOPSIS: Unemployed Duval is contacted by a mysterious organization to transcribe intercepted calls. He accepts the job with no suspicions, since it restores stability to his life, but he soon finds himself caught up in political chaos.