Matthieu Frances and Gary Seghers (director)
Arrow Films (studio)
522min approx. (length)
17 July 2017 (released)
Loosely based on the real-life case of Belgian child molester and serial killer Marc Dutroux, this gripping French-Belgian drama holds many twists and turns in store. Stéphanie Blanchoud plays Chloé Muller – a troubled female inspector who leads the investigation.
When Guy Béranger (Angelo Bison), a dangerous child murderer, is released after 20 years in prison the authorities have the bright idea to release him on parole to the custody of the monks in Vielsart Abbey – a move the local villagers are anything but happy about! Vielsart, a tiny place in the Ardennes, is the kind of idyllic village almost too good to be true and it doesn’t take the arrival of a serial killer to prove that some of the inhabitants are not as squeaky clean as their outward image would suggest… though it does take the arrival of a serial killer to bring out the beast in some of the villagers.
Enter Chloé Muller, a young and tom-boyish looking inspector from Brussels who is assigned to investigate the sudden appearance of a local girl named Noemie and to protect Béranger who, despite everyone believing him to be the culprit, swears his innocence. At first even Chloé is hard-pushed to believe him, after all, his trademark symbol was carved in the young victims scalp. But we know that Béranger cannot possibly be the killer; after all, if he were then we wouldn’t have a ten-episode crime drama, would we? And as we soon find out, Chloé is one hell of a disturbed young woman with her own demons to battle: Many years ago she and her younger sister Jessica found themselves harassed by a mysterious toy-maker on a lone country road and the two girls sought refugee in a nearby silo. Chloé eventually sneaked out to fetch help, only to find her little sister missing upon her return and she’s been missing ever since. Riddled with guilt over having ‘abandoned’ Jessica, our tormented inspector re-lives her trauma on a regular basis and even has conversations with her imaginary lost sister. If you think that Sweden’s female detective supreme Saga Norén (THE BRIDGE) is damaged goods, you’ve yet to meet Chloé Muller! Initially she’s also not much of a great cop as things seem to go from bad to worse.
Meanwhile at the Abbey, opinions are divided with regards to Béranger. Despite underlying hostility and all-round suspicions a young monk named Lucas Stassart (Clément Manuel) at least makes an effort to integrate Béranger into the daily life at the Abbey, despite the fact that Lucas also has his own demons to battle. He also has two brothers: loose cannon and troublemaker Vincent (Vincent Londez) and Patrick (Philippe Jeusette), a man in financial crisis who hopes to get backing for a much needed building project. Patrick is married to Judith (Laura Sepul) who is utterly devoted to the care of their mentally challenged teenage son Emile (Lucas Jacquemin). Adamant to prove that Béranger has nothing to do with the murder of little Noemie, Chloé not only makes the acquaintance of the three Stassart brothers but is now sharing the investigation with local detective Charlier (Jean-Jacques Rausin), a well-meaning guy and single father who – understandably – is somewhat perplexed by Chloé’s tactics. When Guy Béranger superfan Sarah Decoster falls under suspicion to be the culprit and to copycat his murders to impress her ‘idol’ a bungled attempt to arrest her ends in disaster. Soon after, another child is found murdered, this time a local boy called Lauren. Once again, the victim has a mysterious symbol carved in his flesh. While Béranger insists that he’s being stitched up some of the locals decide to take the law into their own hands and by doing so they open a can of worms (worms are featured quite frequently by the way) that both Chloé and Charlier find very hard to swallow… What is the secret of the strange figure wearing a bizarre deer mask in a photo discovered by Chloè? And who is the mysterious stranger who seems to know about a secret underground tunnel leading into the abbey?
Rest assured, you won’t see the twist coming! PUBLIC ENEMY is truly gripping stuff that will have you hooked beginning to end and don’t let the subtitles put you off!