At the end of the two episodes broadcast this evening on TF1, the public will have discovered the outcome of the trial of Sami, accused of a murder which he claims not to have committed. A conclusion that differs slightly from that of its American model, “The Night Of”.
Warning, this article contains spoilers!
While the miniseries Une si longue nuit ends this evening on TF1 with the broadcast of the last two episodes, in which the trial of Sami (Sayyid El Alami) accused of the murder of Gloria (Liv Del Estal) continues its course, a small comparison is essential between the finale chosen by the screenwriters of the French adaptation, Clothilde Jamin and Nicolas Clément, and that of the HBO series The Night Of, from which it is drawn (itself adapted from a British series, Criminal Justice ).
Isabelle Courville (Mathilde Seigner), iconoclastic lawyer for the accused, strives to find the detail that will be able to exonerate her client, found with the murder weapon on him and who has confessed to having spent the evening with the victim. She finds unexpected support from Commander Berroyer (Jean-Pierre Darroussin), who is in charge of Sami’s arrest as the last feat of arms before his retirement.
It is finally thanks to a discovery of the seasoned investigator, in the form of deus ex machinecombined with the lawyer’s intuition on having discovered a disturbing child’s drawing in Gloria’s apartment, that she will manage to expose the truth during the trial: the testimony of a young woman who has suffered sexual violence when she was a teenager from her stepfather, Xavier Jourdain (Lannick Gautry), who is none other than Gloria’s stepfather.
A thunderous revelation which therefore undermines the prosecution against Sami. The lawyer demonstrates to the jurors that Gloria had left the family home to flee her abusive stepfather, and had started taking drugs following this trauma. The latter would not have supported that she escapes his control and threatens him to tell the truth to his mother after an argument, and would have decided to kill her, taking advantage of the fact that Sami is unconscious in his living room.
A choice of final revelation that differs from the American version, although several elements of the plot are repeated (the retired police commander who decides to follow his instincts and collaborate with a lawyer, or the fact that the young assistant of the Sami’s lawyer kisses her client and jeopardizes the fairness of the trial.)
Indeed, in The Night Of, the alleged killer of the victim turns out to be her ex-boyfriend, a violent man arrested several times for stabbing prostitutes and who used regularly in the accounts of the young woman, also being his ex-financial adviser. Suspecting the man, Sergeant Box (Bill Camp) finds his trace in the neighborhood of the young woman the evening of the crime thanks to video surveillance.
Alas, for defense lawyer Helen Weiss played by Jeannie Berlin (and whose screenwriters were no doubt inspired to compose the character of Mathilde Seigner), these elements are too meager in the face of confusing evidence which incriminates Naz, the main suspect (Riz Ahmed). In the end, he will only owe his salvation to the brilliant defense of his court-appointed lawyer, Jack Stone (John Turturro), and to his committed speech against the judicial machinery, denouncing the breaches of the law the evening of his arrest and the fact that other potentially dangerous suspects in the victim’s entourage were not interviewed.
For lack of unanimity in the verdict of the jury and the abandonment of the prosecution of the defense, Naz is released; but he is destroyed by the violence he suffered in prison. And that’s the whole point of the series, which highlights the flaws in the justice system rather than wanting to meet the expectations of the viewer by arresting the real culprit, which doesn’t matter in the end since Naz has become guilty in the eyes of all once outside.
The TF1 adaptation thus offers a slightly more conventional ending than the bitter conclusion of The Night Of, showing Naz addicted to heroin and now rejected by society, while the defense lawyer and Sergeant Box decide to chase after the victim’s ex-companion.
Such a long night on TF1: what do the actors of the American and British versions look like?