Stanford Mail

Unique Genre-Bender Strips Away Cinematic Clichés

Vincent Must Die (Vincent doit mourir)


Genre: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 1h 48m
Director(s): Stéphan Castang
Writer(s): Mathieu Naert
Cast: Karim Leklou, Vimala Pons, François Chattot, Michaël Perez, Emmanuel Vérité, Guillaume Bursztyn, Benoit Lambert, Jean-Rémy Chaize, Maurin Olles, Jean-Christophe Folly
Language: French with English subtitles
Where To Watch: screened at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival

RAVING REVIEW: VINCENT MUST DIE an intriguing French genre-bender that takes us on a deep dive into the mundanity of everyday life before throwing us into the deep end with a mix of unexpected hostility and darkness. A debut sensation by director Stéphan Castang, it blends the ordinary and the ominous with just the right mix of “what just happened?”

The story follows Karim Leklou's character, Vincent, an unassuming graphic designer based in the city of Lyon. Leklou's performance of an average guy who unwittingly becomes the epicenter of a brutal wave of violence is brilliant in its simplicity. You’re more than just a viewer along for the ride in this film; you are part of the experience; as we learn more about Vincent, you can piece together the story and where all the pieces connect.

You're drawn into the suspense as Vincent's office transforms into a battlefield. Seamlessly blending the terrifying and comical, it keeps you teetering on the edge. Leklou navigates these shifts effortlessly. You might find echoes of films that have come before in this experience. Is this a horror film, is it a comedy, is it a thriller? No… It’s a mix of all of that and more. Yet, VINCENT MUST DIE clears a unique niche by removing worn-out clichés. Instead, it descends into the abyss where primal human instincts sway.

Mathieu Naert pens a complex narrative with a genuine European cinematic experience. Amidst the occasional stumble, the script showcases the grit of human relationships and resilience in adversity. You're still engrossed even when the suspense slows, thanks to compelling performances and an undeniably strong score.

Vincent's developing bond with Margaux, played by Vimala Pons, adds another layer to the narrative. Pons infuses Margaux with a unique energy, creating a powerful bond in an otherwise tense plot. Their relationship unfolds in a world on the brink, balancing hope and danger.

The movie's central premise of everyday life being overrun with violence - fractures social norms, initiating a chilling cycle of fear and defense. Shared spaces turn into battlegrounds of hostility, concluding in a dystopian nightmare where the world becomes a constant warzone.

VINCENT MUST DIE forces audiences to ponder the possibilities of recovery and human connection in a world ravaged by violence. You're not just sitting through a movie but living through an extraordinary tale of an ordinary man's fight for survival. At times the film feels almost like a documentary of what could be.

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[photo courtesy of THE PR FACTORY/CAPRICCI]