Notes on Streaming: THE WOLF'S CALL (LE CHANT DU LOUP), Crackling French Submarine Thriller
t's the end of the world as we know it, and the French military must stop it.
Narrative contrivances and all, I loved this French-style popcorn flick.
The Wolf's Call (Le chant du loup)
Now streaming on Netflix.
When fresh, hot popcorn is served up in a big dish and placed before you, the only choice to make is: do I want butter or not?
Written and directed by Antonin Baudry, The Wolf's Call (Le chant du loup) immediately grabbed my attention with sequences that grow incredibly tense and nail-biting. (More popcorn please!) And that's only the first act.
The second act sets up a new situation that dances quite intimately with narrative contrivances that sometimes beggar belief, but by that point, I knew what kind of movie I was watching and I was happy with that: it's a sub flick that hews to old-school Hollywood conventions, while recognizing the modern realities of military warfare.
The twist here is that the primary protagonist is an Acoustic Warfare Analyst (AWA), i.e. a sonar expert, the submarine crew member who wears headphones and listens very carefully to pings and sounds under the water and then susses out if it's an organic sea creature or a deadly instrument of war. In order to make that work, the narrative sometimes resembles a pretzel, but that's only apparent in the second act (middle section of the film); the opening and closing sections were strong enough for me to put aside petty concerns and just make more popcorn. (Seriously, I ate more than I should.)
Francois Civil stars as Chanteraide, known as Socks, the AWA, and because the film is told mostly through his point of view, it reflects his perspective as an individual obsessed with sound. This bears fruit in an intimate scene with a new lady friend, and then keeps recurring in the third act.
Submarine officers are more than ably represented by Reda Kateb and Omar Sy as Grandchampe and D'Orsi, respectively, wily and more than capable men of integrity who are placed in impossible situations. Further authority is represented higher up the chain of command by Mathieu Kassovitz and Jean-Yves Berteloot, who bring crisp authority to their roles. Paula Beer plays Diane, sound man Chanteraide's new lady friend; she is over-qualified for the role and under-used, yet brings instant sympathy to the character.
Just so you know my tastes better, I have very fond memories of seeing The Hunt for Red October and U-571, the latter of which nearly blew my ear drums out during its initial screening at a brand-new theater. So, yes, I'm disposed toward traditional submarine movies that are well-done and keep their eye on the plot.
Released theatrically in its native France in February 2019, the film also saw theatrical release in Belgium, Switzerland, Poland, and Portugal, and is due for release soon in Italy, Singapore, and Netherlands.
Summing up: My kind of sub flick.