The Lost Son (1999)

Rating: B-

Dir: Chris Menges
Star: Daneil Auteuil, Katrin Cartlidge, Marianne Denicourt, Nastassja Kinski

This is one of those films that’s impossible to enjoy, and very hard even to like, but you can certainly appreciate its power, even if it’s so grubbily downbeat you feel in serious need of washing your hands after viewing. Auteuil is an ex-cop turned dodgy private-eye, whose missing-person case leads him into the deep and murky world of paedophile sex rings. This is harrowing stuff, the exploitational nature balanced by the necessity for it, and there’s hardly a single ray of moral light in the first hour — the pit is a scene which should put you off Tetris for a few weeks.

Compared to this, the ascent isn’t really convincing and the ending seems to lose the thread altogether, a shame after what’s gone before. Kinski puts in one of her “significant cameo” appearances (she’s so cute when she’s pouty), and the feel is like a European version of James Hadley Chase. The problem is not whether you’ll fall asleep during the film, ‘cos you won’t. It’s whether you’ll be able to afterwards…