Who Killed Bambi? (2003) / Drama-Thriller
aka Qui a Tue Bambi?

MPAA Rated: Not rated, but would definitely be R for nudity, sexuality, some violence, and language
Running Time: 126 min.

Cast: Sophie Quinton, Laurent Lucas, Catherine Jacob, Yasmine Belmadi, Michele Moreti, Valerie Donzelli, Jean-Claude Jay, Lisa Huynh
Director: Gilles Marchand
Screenplay: Gilles Marchand, Vincent Dietschy
Review published April 2, 2007

Sophie Quinton (La Cage, La Nourrice) stars as Isabelle, a young intern studying to be a nurse at one of the leading hospitals in France.  She suffers from a malady that has been giving her dizzy spells and loss of balance, which earns her the nickname of "Bambi" (the Disney character that also had a hard time standing) from the handsome young Dr. Philipp (Laurent Lucas, With a Friend Like Harry).  Shortly before she decides to undergo an operation to fix the affliction, she comes to suspect Dr. Philipp of tampering with the medical supply in order that he might put patients into a deep sleep and sexually assault them.  A strange dream while under anesthesia leads her to believe she may have suffered the same fate, but try as she might, no one else seems to believe her wild accusations.  In order to prove herself right, she must work stealthily on her own, but that also means she must remain in harm's way, as Dr. Philipp is not only monitoring her, but has also started showing more of an interest.

Who Killed Bambi? marks the first feature film directed by screenwriter Gilles Marchand, who earned acclaim for helping develop such works as Human Resources, Bon Voyage, With a Friend Like Harry and Red Lights.  His approach is subtle, only delving into moments of style on certain occasions, and when he does, it is with a level of competence that shows me might just have a future in the director's chair. 

Where he doesn't have a future is in the editing department, as Bambi overstays its welcome by a good 30-40 minutes.  With a few additional twists and turns in the plot, perhaps one might justify this otherwise mundane thriller needing extra time to for developing the ambitious story, but there is barely any doubt as to what is going on and what is going to happen from the beginning.  The only real mystery is whether or not Isabelle (aka Bambi) is indeed going to be killed, as the title asserts. 

Who Killed Bambi? is a sexy and provocative French thriller, with good character development and nice casting all around.  Sophie Quinton displays effective inquisitiveness and naivety, making her character wholly sympathetic, especially later on when we feel she may be in grave danger.  Laurent Lucas is also equal part menacing and charismatic, adding an extra nuance to the story by being repulsive in his actions, yet appealing in his seductiveness to a young dreamer like Isabelle.

Who Killed Bambi? is a modest film with a very limited appeal.  The dark subject matter and stolid delivery will certainly test the attention spans of many looking for a more gripping thriller, and given the aforementioned length of the film, one can understand growing restless for Marchand to finally get to the point we all know is coming.  I'm going to give this film a modest recommendation for viewers who like intriguing medical dramas and psychological thrillers of a different sort, but I also think that director Marchand ends up trying one's patience more often than Dr. Philipp tries patients.

Qwipster's rating:

1997 Vince Leo