Frédéric Schoendoerffer’s Switch (2011) stars Karine Vanasse as Sophie Malaterre, a 25-year-old suffering from a case of mistaken identity, and Eric Cantona as Damian Forgeat, the detective assigned to investigate the murder she has been accused of. In Canada, Sophie is stuck in rut until an acquaintance recommends a house switching website to liven up her summer. She takes the plunge and relocates to Paris where a luxury apartment awaits her.
After spending her first night in the capital, Sophie wakes nauseated and moments later a police squad raids the apartment. A decapitated body is found in the adjacent room. Convinced Sophie is the apartment’s occupier, Forgeat arrests her. As her identity crisis deepens, Sophie is forced to go to increasingly desperate measures to evade the police and prove that she is who she claims to be.
Whilst Schoendoerffer’s thriller struggles at times to shake off its low production values, it remains relatively engaging throughout. Its credibility does suffer from the occasional off-the-mark acting performance from some of the less focal members of the cast, yet Switch remains gripping to the end and it’s easy to be sucked into the heroine’s mission to prove her own identity. From being a meek wallflower, Vanasse’s Sophie becomes assertive, resilient and resourceful.
With many films of this ilk, the opportunity to demonstrate a female actress as a genuine action proposition is often undermined by the overwhelming need to ‘sex up’ female leads. In tune with its low budget aesthetic, this is achieved by the occasional gratuitous nude shot. However, this can be excused by the flashes of potential that Switch demonstrates. Most people would also be sceptical of former-Manchester United striker Cantona as a convincing artiste, yet with the exception of one ridiculous scene in which he fails to shoot the girl ‘getting away’ on a very slow scooter, his is consistent and likeable.
Switch starts strongly, but sadly the end suffers from a lack of ingenuity and intrigue and is padded out by an excessive amount of drawn-out action scenes. Vanasse certainly carries this film, but once your initial intrigue is shot down by a left-field plot twist, you may well wonder why you didn’t switch off earlier.