A shadow passes on the Croisette. Arnaud Desplechin has certainly never really focused on humor. But his new film, Roubaix, a light, delves into the recesses of the least ragoûtants of the human soul. An old lady dies in the night of Christmas, in a quartier morne de Roubaix. Two neighbors of the deceased woman (Léa Seydoux and Sara Forestier), toxicos, alcoolos and love are interviewed by an old cop at the flair relentless (Roschdy Zem), and a young rookie (Antoine Reinartz). Placing once again the plot in his hometown, Roubaix – its brick houses and its noxious atmosphere, the director of Three memories of my youth signs its first polar. And divides them sharply critical.

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“All the unhappiness of the age,”

For Eric Neuhoff, critic for the Figaro , between the scenes of interrogation and the houses of red brick, “one feels all the woe of the time.” “There has been a” Simenon in this simple story, trivial,” judge he. More excited still, Marilou Duponchel to the Inrocks has found the film “sumptuous”, “thrilling”. According to it, Arnaud Desplechin perfectly combines the intelligence of fiction to which we had become accustomed to, and the realistic narrative, which he tries for the first time. “Helped codes of the detective novel, the story is realistic, sketch, dark, bitter, gently brutal, served by a mise en scene stylized”, decrypts it.

“there has been a” Simenon in this simple story, trivial”

Eric Neuhoff, Le Figaro,

conversely, Christophe Narbonne, a journalist with the First , regrets a “ultraréalisme which is in Desplechin against the order of nature”. It aims, in particular, the “second part, which focuses on the moral decline of an industrial city facing high unemployment, to the decay of its infrastructure”. Any description that it “feels prefabricated”.

Too much spirit, not enough

To Thomas Sotinel of the World , it is more in the action scenes that Arnaud Desplechin has failed. “The violence is excluded, at the risk of losing realism”, he complained. A sense of shame also much maligned by Olivier De Bruyn to Marianne : “The filmmaker, despite the dark realism of his argument, prefers to keep at a distance and almost theoretical, surrender to a reflection distanced and stringy on the possible salvation of souls”. Undeniably, Desplechin does, according to him, not made his greatest film.

The provision of Roschdy Zem in commissioner of police gets it, praise unanimous. “A gentle man, a humanist, enlightened, which gives birth to the suspects in flattering their share of light,” writes Christophe Narbonne in First . The likes of Lino Ventura, it is “the great success of the film,” he says. Same observation in 20 minutes of which the editorial believes that the “governed as it has ever been, the actor sheds light on the film of his performance”. Enough to receive the prize of interpretation? Verdict Saturday, may 25.

● Extracts of Roubaix, a light of Arnaud Desplechin