A young man with a troubled past attempts to redeem himself on a rescue mission in Sophie Dupuis’ thrillingly tense second feature.
It’s not hard to see that Maxime (Joakim Robillard) is troubled. He carries the burden of past actions in his temperament and physicality. But as a member of a mine rescue team, is he the person his colleagues want watching their back? That’s where they find themselves at the film’s outset, as the team journeys deep underground to rescue a shift of workers trapped in a mine. The film then jumps back in time, chronicling the friendship between Maxime and Julien (Théodore Pellerin). It gradually reveals Maxime’s earlier life, which could affect the decisions he makes in the present.
Filming in the Quebecois region of Val-d’Or, Canadian writer-director Dupuis has skill and ingenuity in abundance when it comes to action and tension. The scenes underground are suitably claustrophobic, but those closely-confined moments are matched by Maxim’s emotional torment. Dupuis and her cast, particularly relative newcomer Robillard, impress throughout. They excel at conveying the grittiness and sense of danger that miners endure, knowing that one false move could bring the world crashing down upon them.