The Night Clerk Avant l'Aube


Credits non contractual

  • Awards:

    • A hotel clerk with a criminal record gets involved in covering up an accidental murder. A suspenseful psychological thriller with a top-notch cast.
  • Details:

    • 105 min - 'Crime / Investigation / Thriller' -
      French - 2010
    • Color - 2.35 - Dolby SR - SRD - HD masters available
  • Directed by:

    • Raphael Jacoulot
  • Cast:

    • Jean-Pierre Bacri (Let It Rain, Look at Me, It Takes all Kind)
    • Vincent Rottiers (In the Beginning), Ludmila Mikael
    • Sylvie Testud (Françoise Sagan, La Vie en Rose, Fear and Trembling – Best actress at the Cesar Awards 2004, Murderous Maids – Most promising actress at the Cesar Awards 2001)
  • Produced by:

    • Dominique Besnehard and Michel Feller - Mon Voisin Productions
  • Medias:

  • Photos

    Photos: Ricardo Vaz Palma

  • Synopsis

    Recently paroled, Frédéric, mid-20s, works nights at an upscale hotel in the breathtaking Pyrenees mountains.
    One night, he spots the hotel owner, Jacques Couvreur, and his son concealing a damaged vehicle.
    When the police investigate the death of a hotel guest, Frederic covers for his boss, who rewards him by promoting him and taking him under his wing. He is moved by Jacques’ paternal attitude and fascinated by his family and lifestyle… until he realizes he is being set up to take the blame for their crimes.

  • Leading cast

    Jean-Pierre Bacri – Jacques Couvreur

    Jacques COUVREUR, about fifty, a man of great charisma, manages his hotel with firmness and passion. As he will soon retire, he is deeply concerned about his succession: He had pinned all his hopes on his only son, but the latter refuses to succeed him...

    2008 Let it rain by Agnès Jaoui
    2004 Look at me by Agnès Jaoui
    2003 Feelings by Noémie Lvovsky / Nominated to the Best Actor Award – Cesar Awards
    2000 It takes all kinds by Agnès Jaoui
    1998 Same old song by Alain Resnais / Best Supporting Actor – Cesar Awards

    Vincent Rottiers – Frédéric Boissier

    Frédéric BOISSIER, a twenty-three-year-old man, leads a modest life in a rather dull city set in a valley. Unstable and lacking direction, he broke with his foster family and committed a few offences for which he served a short prison sentence. His probation officer finds him a night job as a trainee in a big hotel in a ski resort. Frédéric is immediately attracted by this luxury and seemingly peaceful environment which is unknown to him. Above all he is fascinated by the way of life of the family who runs the hotel, a family dominated by a strong father figure he will try to get close to...

    Selective filmography
    2009 I’m glad that my mother is alive by Claude Miller
    2008 In the beginning by Xavier Giannoli
    2007 Female agents by Jean-Paul Salomé

    Sylvie Testud – Sylvie, police detective

    Sylvie is a police detective. She is investigating a case which leads her to the hotel. Though her appearance seems out of place in this rich environment, she is not impressed. During her regular confrontations with Jacques, she is never flustered by his authoritarian attitude and carries out her investigation imperturbably...

    Selective filmography
    2008 Sisters by Eléonore Faucher
    2007 Françoise Sagan by Diane Kurys
    Nominated to the Best Actress Award – Cesar Awards
    2005 La Vie en Rose by Olivier Dahan / Nominated to the Best Supporting Actress Award – Cesar Awards
    2002 Fear and Trembling by Alain Corneau
    Best Actress Award – Cesar Awards
    2000 Murderous Maids by Jean-Pierre Denis
    Best Actress Award – Cesar Awards
  • Crew

    A film by
    Raphaël Jacoulot

    Dominique Besnehard
    (The Age of Ignorance)
    and Michel Feller
    (Fanfan la Tulipe – Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival 2003; I, César) – Mon Voisin Productions
    in coproduction with Iris Productions and France 3 Cinéma

    Benoît Chamaillard
    (Little Senegal)

    Art director
    Denis Renault
    (Malabar Princess, Mademoiselle)


    Pyrénées Mountains and Luxembourg
    from January 18th until March 27th, 2010

    French distributor
    UGC Distribution, first semester 2011
  • Director’s notes


    The Night Clerk is a film project about the quest for love and recognition. Frédéric is a character suffering from a lack of love, in search of a foster family, a character who has been hurt by life and who finds new hope in the Couvreurs, who appear to welcome him into their family. He meets Jacques, a father disappointed in his son. The film, relying on the emotions of these two characters, is built on their relationship, on the way they meet, on the particular experience they share.

    The family is, for me, an important theme, both in the ties that bind its different members together and in the disturbances this can bring about. In this story, you have on the one hand Frédéric, who suffers from lack of family, and on the other hand the Couvreur family, with Jacques at its head, an authoritarian father figure, both harsh and loving. A family which is apparently strong, with several generations of male figures, but also fragile, with its conflicts, its succession and legacy issues, and above all the father's disillusion with not having the son he would have wished for.

    Frédéric's wish to integrate the Couvreur family, to enter a world he considers better, is doomed. Even if his relationship with Jacques - distorted right from the start, since Jacques buys Frédéric's silence -becomes gradually sincere, it eventually fails. These two characters, even if they share a common experience for the time it takes them to grow attached to each other, come from two diametrically opposed backgrounds. The unearthing of the Couvreur family's secret condemns Frédéric: he is bound to become the victim.

    There is something tragic in Frédéric's destiny, as if fate befell him. Rejected by the Couvreurs, marginalized once again, he ends up even lower than where he came from, hunted like an animal at the end of the film. His resentment will be all the deeper as he has been given hope. That's why his violence will flare out of control.

    The spiral in which Frederic is caught is sparked and fuelled by a police investigation: Frédéric happens to get involved in a shady situation involving Jacques and his son and in which he will become a scapegoat.
    (…) More than the plot, it is the unstoppable fatalistic progress, the spiral in which Frédéric is caught which is important.

    The detective genre provides the story with a framework which I find extremely useful: the device of point of view, the handling of information, the implacable mechanism of the narrative, the exploitation of tension, worry and fear. Moreover the genre offers a lot of opportunities as far as directing is concerned: the creation of a universe and an atmosphere, a pace, the possibility of resorting to abstraction in designing shots, working on point of view and "audience direction".

    Creating a specific universe and atmosphere is important to me. It was present in my short features and my previous feature film, Barrage
    (Dam). I want it to find expression in this new film as well: the isolated hotel in the mountains, which is both a welcoming place and an impregnable fortress; the mountain range, with its oppressive skylines, the lunar landscapes, winter and the snow, the dangerous roads, the forests; the changing light, at dawn or dusk, the nights, pitch dark or milky. Metaphorically Frédéric emerges from the night to walk into the daylight and finally return to the night - the nocturnal first part of the film when he is a night watchman, then the heart of the film when he is given a day job and the snow comes, and finally the twilight glow and darkness of the end of the film.

    Raphaël Jacoulot

  • Press

    “Bacri and Rottiers: a magnetic and powerful duo.”
    Le Figaro Madame

    “A rich screenplay, elegant directing, excellent acting”
    Le Point

    “An excellent film with wonderfully subtle actors”

    “Bacri cooked up Simenon style”
    Le Journal du Dimanche

    “A fantastic crime drama”
    Version Femina

    “Vincent Rottiers is colossal”
    Tele Z

    “A fascinating plot with remarkable acting”
    Télé Poche

    “A total success”

    “Jean–Pierre Bacri is excellent”
    Le Parisien

    “A disturbing and effective film”

    “An excellent psychological crime drama”

    “A psychologically engaging crime drama, with a tight plot and remarkable acting”

    "A film remarkably true-to-life"
    Focus Vif

    "A flawless cast"
    Le Soir

    "Jean-Pierre Bacri is awesome"