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Laurent Herbiet’s Mon Colonel has a lot going for it: A screenplay (adapted from Francis Zamponi’ novel) by award-winning filmmaker Costa-Gavras, subject matter (the Algerian War) that’s as relevant today as it was half a century ago, and compelling performances. So it’s a shame to see the film marred by something as simple as a flawed narrative structure. Herbiet’s first feature isn’t so much the story of idealistic, left-leaning French army lieutenant Guy Rossie (Robinson Stévenin)—who finds himself under the command of a torture-happy colonel (Olivier Gourmet) during the conflict—as it is the story of the present-day military officer, lieutenant Galois (Cécile De France), assigned to investigate the colonel’s recent murder. Most of the screen time and all of the dramatic action belong to the black-and-white flashbacks, but the more jarring scenes are the full-color, present-day ones—if only in the sense that the latter completely removes the viewer from the emotional impact of the former. Outside of the many shots of an appalled Galois reading through Rossi’s diary, there’s not a lot going on in the present-day sequences, which makes their inclusion, though certainly not on par with the violent crimes committed by Herbiet’s subjects, every bit as needless and senseless.