Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

{38 Witnesses screens at SIFF May 21, 6:30pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown, May 23, 8:30pm at the Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center, and again May 28 at The Egyptian Theatre, 9:15pm}

Based on the 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese in NYC, 38 Witnesses dives into the aftermath of a brutal stabbing. Louise (Sophie Quinton, who played Marilyn-clone Martine in last year’s Poupoupidiu, one of my SIFF favorites) returns home to learn that a young woman named Sylvie who lived in her apartment building was stabbed to death in the middle of the night. Her fiancé Pierre (Yvan Attal) tries to cover up feelings of guilt by lying about his whereabouts, but eventually buckles under the stress of the situation and confesses—first to Louise, and then to the police.

As each of the 38 witnesses is questioned a second time, the police determine that all of them heard Sylvie screaming that night, but chose to ignore it instead of reporting it. With each passing day, Louise wonders how the people around her could look the other way, and struggles with the knowledge that her fiancé is one of them—while Pierre’s guilt breaks him down more and more, driving a wedge between the couple.

Director Lucas Belvaux (who also directed Yvan Attal in Rapt, another SIFF standout from 2010) weaves a tight, emotionally distressing tale of responsibility, guilt, and tragedy. Disturbing (especially when they start replaying the victim’s screams over and over again), but recommended.