“Black box”: a breathtaking thriller about the “quest for truth”

(AFP) – “All that is secret attracts my curiosity”: in “Black box”, in theaters Wednesday, an investigator, played by Pierre Niney, seeks to solve the mystery on the crash of a Dubai-Paris flight which has kills 300 in the Alps, a thriller under high tension.

“Paranoid film”, “Black box”, Yann Gozlan’s fourth feature film was born from his fascination with this “mysterious” device used by investigators to shed light on the crash of a device: in reality two orange boxes which record flight data and discussions in the cockpit.

“The film speaks of a quest for truth, of conspiracy and of the fact that sometimes the distinction is not obvious”, explains the director who sought to “send the viewer back, through this story, to the present world, paranoid and anxious” .

Following the unexplained disappearance of an investigator from the Bureau of Investigation and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA), Mathieu Vasseur (Pierre Niney), a brilliant young engineer but with difficult human contact, finds himself in charge of the case.

The crashes of two Boeings 737 Max, in part caused by the malfunction of a system designed by the aircraft manufacturer to assist pilots, were a source of inspiration for the director. In 2018 and 2019, in Indonesia and Ethiopia, these accidents killed 347 people.

– Aeronautical arena –
“When opening a black box, the tension is palpable. BEA technicians operate under the watchful eye of representatives of manufacturers and flight companies,” says the director who shot in the BEA room where these are taking place. operations. “The human, industrial and financial issues surrounding the responsibility for the accident are colossal”.

Yann Gozlan was keen to stage this pressure by showing the “very competitive” aeronautics environment, “an arena with many players with divergent interests, from manufacturers to airlines”, and where “highly qualified people” evolve. , often from the same schools.

This inter-self is found even in the personal sphere. Noémie Vasseur, the wife of Pierre Niney in the film (played by Lou de La age), member of an aircraft certification committee, is about to join a major manufacturer.

At the start of the film, their couple is “an alliance in the process of falling apart, it is on the rise and he has complicated relations with his colleagues”, describes the director.

While the investigation instills doubt in the character of Pierre Niney at the risk of driving him crazy, “his paranoia spreads into his private life”.

– Pressurized characters –
“The recording of black boxes, inevitably degraded, requires analysis work which leaves room for interpretation”, explains the director and screenwriter. “The fact that experts may have different interpretations creates a dramatic spring.”

“I like that my characters are pressured, both by external pressures and by internal debates,” explains the director. “They are often on the verge of burnout”.

The character of Pierre Niney, who works for the second time with Yann Gozlan after “An ideal man” (2015), explores all avenues, from the terrorist attack to issues related to new technologies, and sinks into a spiral doubt.

So what can the public believe? “I wanted the arguments against Mathieu to be plausible and for all the characters to appear suspect.”

“Mathieu Vasseur does not feel recognized for his fair value, to the point that the public can question his motivations,” continues the director who wanted “him not to be a white knight fighting for the truth.”

Deviating from his habits, Yann Gozlan wrote the role with Pierre Niney in mind. “He knows how to bring a nervousness that he exudes in the film by playing a feverish character, in his bubble. He makes him ambivalent in the eyes of the spectator, while inspiring empathy”.