A film for the mystery connoisseur

Nothing pulls at me like a good mystery.

You can easily catch me binge watching “Criminal Minds,” googling the facts behind the latest “Dateline NBC” or staying up all night reading the latest thriller, which is why I’m looking forward to the last film in our fall film series, The Unknown Girl.

The Belgian-French drama follows Jenny (Adele Haenel), a young doctor who leaves the clinic door unanswered, only to find out that the African woman found dead shortly after was the one ringing the bell. Driven by guilt and redemption, Jenny sets out to find out who the woman is and see to it that she is not forgotten.

Are you not intrigued? I sure hope so, because, in my humble, suspense-loving opinion, The Unknown Girl possesses at least three characteristics that make for a quality mystery.

It’s attention-grabbing. Great thrillers make it impossible to walk away right from the get-go. Fellow bookworms, it’s those books that invoke a high page-turning pace and healthy dose of obsession to know what happens next. In this case, the Dardenne brothers keep at their gripping undercurrents, begging audience members to go along on Jenny’s journey to find out who this woman is, what happened to her and why she was ringing the clinic’s bell in the first place.

There’s a stellar plot twist. I’m bothered when I figure things out early on and there are no “OMG!” moments. Please, throw me for a loop; give me a dose of humility when I think I know what comes next. Sure, we don’t know the plot twist in this film yet, but the preview alone begs for one. You have a doctor who, moments before the bell rings, tells her intern that “a doctor has to control his emotions,” and yet, days later, she’s making house calls, wondering into places she’d never dreamed of before, her emotions deeply driving her quest for the truth. That’s a solid start in my plot twist requirements.

You forget Adèle Haenel is acting. She’s too busy seeing the world as Jenny would.

You get a sense of purpose and closure. Not just as the viewer-turned investigator, but you want to see the characters reach a closing point. At the heart of this film is a dilemma for even the most dedicated do-gooder – at what point do you pull back to keep yourself from falling too deep? You see Jenny take on different hats to give this girl a voice, consumed by the thought she is to blame. You can only hope to see a closure to that. Plus, you’ll see the directors’ belief in humanity’s freedom to choose to do good, even as outside pressures say otherwise.

Ultimately, I want to be part of a mystery that stays with me even after it’s long done. Something that pulls at my heart and mind, which is something we hope to give you with all the Knick films we show. Something I’m confident The Unknown Girl has to offer.

The Unknown Girl is showing on Monday – Saturday, Nov. 6-11 at 7:30 p.m. Check out the trailer.

Tickets are $7 for regular admission and $6 for senior citizens, Hope College faculty/staff and children. Tickets will be sold at the door but are also available in advance at the Events and Conferences Office located downtown in the Anderson-Werkman Financial Center (100 E. Eighth St.). The office is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached at (616) 395-7890.

The Knickerbocker Theatre is located downtown Holland at 86 E. Eighth St.

Odille Parker
Hope College Events and Conferences Manager