Sophie Malaterre (Karine Vanasse) is excited by the idea of a house swap – where you exchange homes with someone so you both get a holiday but save on accommodation – which will allow her to escape her Montreal life for a while with a trip to Paris. However she hasn’t been in France for long when the police raid the flat she’s swapped into and arrest Sophie while she’s in the bath, carting her off to the station after a decapitated head is found in her room.
Detective Forgeat (Eric Cantona) begins to question her, certain that she is a woman called Bénédicte. Sophie insists that she this soon, but soon learns all evidence of her real identity has been digitally erased, and there’s a French passport that seems to confirm she is Bénédicte. Realising that it might takes weeks to prove her true identity – if at all – Sophie manages to escape police custody, going on the run to try and find out what’s going on. However it soon becomes apparent the real Bénédicte isn’t just devious but also extremely violent.
It’s a decent if not desperately original set-up for a film, let down by a sense that things are getting increasingly silly rather than ever more thrilling. Switch is a film where it feels like the desire to get characters from a-to-b is more important than how they get there, so that the plot gets ever more ridiculous and it’s difficult not to feel that there are ways for the character to sort out their problems, including the identity issues, which are simply being ignored or whitewashed to keep prevent the film from stopping dead.
If you’re interested in how former footballer Eric Cantona acquits himself, he’s not bad at all. As in his other film appearances, Cantona proves a capable is not especially magnetic actor. He does suffer though from an increasingly common actorly problem – an inability to smoke a cigarette convincingly. I know it’s not a big issue, but there’s precious little point having a character who smokes if the actor has absolutely no idea how a smoker holds a fag, which in Eric’s case is in a way where he seems worried he might catch cancer from it at any moment.
Main actress Karine Vanasse meanwhile is another matter. While you can understand that her character would be pretty stressed by her identity issues, Vanasse plays it at too high a pitch for too long, so that her constant anguished expressions and on the edge acting quickly becomes exhausting. It stops feeling like you’re on a journey with her and more that she’s screaming in your face for 90 minutes. In real life that would be reasonable considering what’s happening to her, but in a thriller it needs more variety.
All this results in a film that feels more television than cinema, with a plot that’s essentially a join-the-dots procedural, with an ending that might pass muster in an average episode of CSI, but which feels a bit lazy for a film.
Overall Verdict: With a plot that can’t hide its logical shortcoming and a main performance that lacks variety and quickly gets exhausting, Switch certainly won’t go down in the annals of great thrillers.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac