On a rainy night a young man is running through the streets of a small town. He is seriously wounded and loosing a lot of blood. As he collapses on the ground, a few meters away from home we rewind back to see what had happened and why. Who is to blame? A man? Or a heat wave, that threw everyone in this small provincial own to the edge of their sanity?
HEAT WAVE is a story of a small town, what makes it tick, and what can destroy it. We are introduced to a handful of characters, simple country folk, each and one of them a hostage of their town, their land, and each other. At the center of the story is a young man Josheph Bousou, whose inadequate behavior slowly but steadily turns everyone against him and it is only a matter of time when one of the villagers will strike to eliminate the problem.
HEAT WAVE is a drama and a mystery. Although the investigation part takes only one fourth of the film, we do wonder about the characters long before the eponymous crime is committed. The “whodunit” part is not the main focus of the story, however. It’s the politics of the town, the “have and have-nots”, the power play and the scape goats – all like a political model of a country on a minor scale.
The performances are all top notch, but the focus is always on Karim Leklou as mentally handicapped Joseph. His portrayal of this town’s black sheep is a reflection of naivety, but the sort of naivety that cannot tell the right from wrong. He is one scary individual, while also pretty harmless, we can easily identify with the rest of the town and see why they want to get rid of him.
HEAT WAVE is not evenly paced, but always fascinating and has an interesting story to tell. Placing one’s sins on the shoulders of others is a common topic for director Raphael Jacoulot, whose previous film THE NIGHT CLERC also featured a young man with social problems and a murder investigation, but was placed into a an opposite environment from HEAT WAVE – the middle of the snowy alps.
Also not a perfect film, HEAT WAVE is an interesting examination of a small town life. The whole experience breaths with authenticity, but is rather heavy, just like the midsummer afternoon in province.