“Black Box” (“Boîte noire”)
Letterboxd (4.5/5), Imdb.com (9/10)
Talk about a helluva movie! Writer-director Yann Gozlan’s stylish, suspenseful thriller follows the plane crash investigation conducted by a diligent, talented aviation technician (Pierre Niney) whose keen sense of hearing is a valuable asset in reviewing the contents of the downed aircraft’s cockpit voice recorder (CVR or more commonly called “the black box”). But, given his reputation for being scrupulously thorough, he’s not satisfied by what appears to be the obvious explanation, a conclusion that draws criticism from many of his colleagues, who believe that he’s chasing windmills, if not paranoid and possibly delusional. His dogged determination won’t let him stop, however, especially when a number of suspicious smoking guns begin turning up, some that hit close to home and begin placing his credibility, and even his personal safety, in jeopardy. Despite a slight tendency to drag a bit in the second hour, this contemporary noir-esque offering gets virtually everything else right. Its inventive cinematography, excellent film editing, engaging soundtrack and fine performances mesh perfectly, and the slow-simmering pace is ideal as clues are meticulously doled out in carefully measured parcels, much like what one might find in the pictures of Alfred Hitchcock, Brian DePalma and Roman Polanski. In fact, in many ways, the structure of this release is strongly reminiscent of Polanski’s chilling and captivating slowburn thriller, “The Ghost Writer” (2010). I’m truly mystified why this picture hasn’t received wider attention or distribution, having played in extremely limited theatrical release in 2022, but, thankfully, it’s now available for streaming online and home media. If you’re looking to watch something that will hook you and take you on a spellbinding thrill ride, give this one a look; you won’t regret it.