F.J. Ossang’s 9 Fingers (9 Doigts) is a puzzling and sometimes nervy ride. The film is great when it hits the mark.
A young man starts running with no luggage and no where to go until he inherits a fortune. Subsequently he is chased by a criminal gang and becomes their hostage, and something more…
With 9 Fingers, writer-director F.J. Ossang combines genres to create something rather striking. The film is at once a mystery, a crime thriller, and a sci-fi tale. Ossang blends these genres in a way that keeps viewers on their toes. There is a mystery at the centre, which becomes a crime thriller, before entering the realms of science fiction.
Protagonist Magloire is an interesting character in that he goes with the flow of events, sometimes inhabiting a spectator-like space. The film is separated into acts. The latter portion is where the tension is most prevalent. There is increasingly paranoia, which exploits the nature of the setting. This is very effective in conveying the mindset of the characters.
The band of characters work well to illustrate the film’s varying themes. Some provide humour which is both dark and necessary. Others are concerned with the mission, whilst Magloire displays a laconic freedom to go with the prevailing train of influence. It is the interactions between this group that generates the paranoia; they are stuck in a confined space in which allows fears to grow.
Filmed in black and white and with certain themes prevalent, 9 Fingers feels like it could have been made decades ago. Certain elements such as the modern cars, however, draw viewers out of this. The lighting does not make effective use of the black and white format, whilst the composition is not really notable. Performances in the film are decent, particularly Pascal Greggory and Paul Hamy.
9 Fingers is suitably inventive, but lacks the execution to make it a truly memorable film.
9 Fingers (9 Doigts) is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival on October 2017.