Night Call review – Paris, crime and a cab driver

July 18, 2019
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Look up at night, at the right moment, and you may see it: a jetliner burning silently across the sky, contrails clean and straight, tiny lights rippling across the fuselage and wingtips. The silence is the thing: the sense of human isolation, of urban, modern isolation. The plane burns on and is gone. Another will replace it.

Look down and Paris is all around you, Paris at night, sodium lights staining the limestone a sickly amber, those baroque avenues radiating out at diagonals and suggesting the whole thing is either cracked or a congregation of spiders’ webs. These streets are where the potential passengers stand on curbs, where the metal of hot engines ticks at fuel pumps, where someone waits and waits and then strikes.

Night Call has turned me into a potboiler. It’s hard to talk about it without slipping into the rutted poetry of noir novels, without lighting an imaginary Gaulois and staring out across the imaginary river before heading home alone to the studio apartment, the chess board. You’re a cab driver and there’s a killer loose in the city. You have a murky past and you’re an outsider, so you’re coerced into catching them, but you also have to make a living: fares, tips, fuel expenses, the endless sweeping hands of different clocks. The game plays out in conversations as you move around a map of the city picking up jobs and checking leads. Maybe you’ll get one of your suspects in the back of the cab. Maybe a total random will have something interesting to say. The whole thing’s procedural, so the story is always new, yet always familiar, a stream of half-remembered faces and fragments of half-remembered stories. It’s probably a bit like being a cab driver for real.

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