Top positive review
The Horror (~ real police work in action)
on May 21, 2004
Not for those who like action films, not for children and not a good first date film, Humanite is nonetheless a subtle masterpiece that molds the putty of murder mystery into a psychological thriller of infinite pathos. This Cannes winner begins with a disturbing shot of a violated 11 year old who is murdered. Then it founders in the minimalist, even nonplot aftermathh of this horror. A subplot of an erotic crush, repressed homosexuality, and a work strike follow as we follow this colorful noir about a touched superintendent (lead detective) who is the great grandson of a religious painter who paints, among other things, beautiful little girls, It then seems to go nowhere as the detective, who lives with his mother after losing his own child and woman, founders about in the sort of police activity that is more like the bureaucratic incompetence of most police cases than the plot twists of a murder mystery and thriller. In the end however we realize that this is far more than a successful whodunit. The lack of action is motivated by a world-weary denial that has religious overtones of the fall and indicts us all for complicity in what might be called reality's constitutive crime against innocence, symbolized by the opening rape murder and the gap between trying to comprehend it and the necessary but ultimately insupportable thought that the forces that led to it are absolutely alien to those observing. Not for the squeamish, and yet more so perhaps than life. The solution to the crime and the ability to look at ourselves are here inseparable-suggesting a symbolic meaning beyond the opening horror of this haunting and strangely realistic French film.