After the War

Written by Hervé Le Corre Sam Taylor (trans.)
Review by Elisabeth Lenckos

Violence is rampant in this dark thriller set in the Southwest of France during the height of the Algerian War. Whereas the Germans were soundly defeated in 1945, their French collaborators remain free to wreak havoc on 1950s Bordeaux. They run the city similar to the way they did during World War II, profiting from criminal and illicit activities, torturing and murdering witnesses and opponents, answerable only to their—non-existent—consciences. Their leader is Albert Darlac, Superintendent of Police and small-time Hitler, who rules Bordeaux as his personal fiefdom and rapes his wife because he lusts after his teenage daughter.

But as the war erupts in Algeria, Darlac finally meets his match. Andre Vaillant, whom Darlac betrayed during the occupation, has returned from Auschwitz in order to avenge himself on his enemies. In the meantime, Andre’s son Daniel fights in Algiers, where the horrendous suffering the French Army inflicts takes its toll on his young psyche. However, Daniel is not permitted to recover after he arrives back home. Rather, he is drawn into the battle between Darlac and his father, which escalates to a killing with horrifying consequences.

Because of the references to mindless violence and the Algerian conflict, the comparison to Albert Camus’ L’Étranger offers itself, but while Camus allowed for the possibility of ethical choice, Le Corre’s characters remain trapped in a vicious cycle of maiming and murdering in their desperate, futile attempts to right the balance between victims and perpetrators. An Existentialist noir that is not for the faint-hearted.