Such a long night on TF1: what is the French version of The Night Of with Mathilde…

Launched this evening on TF1, the detective series adapted from the British fiction “Criminal Justice”, better known in its American version produced by HBO, narrates the descent into hell of a young man accused of a murder he says is not to have committed.

What is it about ?

Sami, a 20-year-old student, lives with his parents in the residential suburbs of Marseille. That evening, it’s the end of the course. He is invited to THE party. The place to be. Following an unforeseen event, Sami takes his father’s taxi to get there and meets the mysterious Gloria, with whom he spends the night. ButWhen he wakes up, Gloria is dead, brutally murdered.

Sami is arrested at the scene of the murder. For Jeff, the cop in charge of the investigation, he is the ideal culprit. Sami’s path crosses that of Isabelle, a whimsical and disillusioned criminal lawyer who agrees to defend him and becomes his only chance to get out of it. But is Sami really innocent? And in the end, does it really matter?

such a long night – 6×52 minutes

Every Thursday at 9:10 p.m. on TF1 and in preview on SALTO

Who is it with?

For one of his first main roles on screen, Sayyid El Alami, seen in the Netflix series Messiah and the film Zombi Child by Bertrand Bonello, plays Sami, a boy without stories from a loving family whose parents are interpreted by Zinedine Soualem (Leur Algérie) and Samira Lachhab (Tomorrow belongs to us), who finds himself accused of a sordid murder.

To defend him, Isabelle Courville, a marginal but determined lawyer, is played by Mathilde Seigner, a recurring figure in TF1 fiction with Sam and Le Temps est assassin. She is assisted by Leïla Koffi, a young lawyer convinced of the innocence of her client played by Assa Sylla (SKAM France.)

On the judicial side, Jean-Pierre Darroussin (Le Bureau des Légendes) plays Jeff Berroyer, a police commander at the end of his career responsible for leading the investigation into the murder of Gloria (Liv Del Estal, seen in Validé). Finally, Gwendoline Hamon (Cassandre) and Lannick Gautry (Peur sur le lac) play the victim’s mother and stepfather, while rapper Kaaris (Bronx) plays Anis, an influential prisoner who will take Sami under his protection.

Well worth a look ?

For series buffs who have been able to discover The Night Of on OCS, it might seem difficult to compete with the excellence of the American adaptation produced by the HBO channel of the English detective series Criminal Justice, created by showrunner Peter Moffat in 2008, both the quality of its staging and the overwhelming black performance of Riz Ahmed in the role of the hero, Naz, were unforgettable.

However, the force of the story of this young man arrested in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the description of the formidable legal mechanisms that will make him the ideal culprit, is too powerful a shock not to be addictive, including in this local adaptation.

Clothilde Jamin and Nicolas Clément, both co-writers of the Balthazar series, transpose the series to Marseille in a condensed story that goes from eight to six episodes. In the heart of Marseille, we follow the descent into hell of Sami Kacem, a 19-year-old boy whose fate will change following a chance meeting with Gloria, a young woman with self-destructive behavior.

While all the elements seem to point to him as the murderer, from his North African origins and his modest background to the profile of the victim (a young bourgeois student), the progress of the investigation carried out in parallel by a cheap lawyer and a commissioner on the point of retiring attempts, rather than seeking to make the viewer doubt Sami’s innocence, to depict the mysteries of justice and his relentless logic, in which the truth matters little in the face of the credibility of the arguments advanced by each party.

such a long night on tf1: what is the french version of the night of with mathilde... FRANCOIS LEFEBVRE / TF1
Assa Sylla and Mathilde Seigner

By managing to maintain an assumed degree of darkness as well as a certain sobriety, TF1’s proposal respects the basic material of the original series, which denounces the state of a violent prison system that crushes its detainees left behind, and where miscarriages of justice are allowed by a system in crisis.

With his angelic air and his playing as naturalistic as it is sensitive, Sayyid El Alami is perfect in the role of Sami, illustrating the loss of innocence of a lamb sent to the slaughterhouse. Soon to be featured in the Disney+ Oussekine series inspired by the news item of the same name, the actor appears to be a real revelation at the end of these six episodes, and a name to follow closely among the new generation.

On the other hand, it is difficult to adhere to the character of the lawyer, played by Mathilde Seigner, transposition of the character of Jack Stone held by John Turturro in the HBO series. In the guise of a lawyer eaten away by his job, victim of giant hives translating a sacrificial devotion to the poorest clients he defends, we are dealing here with a crafty and alcoholic woman at odds with her well-to-do background, whose only hobby is meeting men on Tinder while getting a manicure.

A modification that is all the more surprising since the obsessive characteristic of the character played by Turturro has here been put aside for the character of the police commander played by Jean-Pierre Darroussin, who evacuates his anxiety by compulsively eating chocolate bars. A character who finds an echo with the affability of the head of the DGSE that he embodied in The Office of Legendsand of which one wonders why his interpreter was not cast in the role of the lawyer who would have suited him like a glove.

As for the rapper Kaaris, who takes over the role held by the late Michael K. Williams in The Night Of, this one proves to be credible as an ex-drug baron holding the strings from inside the prison and who takes Sami under his wing in order to help him survive in a world of which he knows nothing, but also to use it at his expense.

Despite some clumsiness of consistency due to the constraint of making the story last in six hours, Such a long night remains an addictive and dark drama series, and will be an all the more powerful shock for viewers who will discover this societal and legal drama for the first time. For the others, the comparison with the version from across the Channel will certainly make it more laborious.

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