Q&As with Arnaud Desplechin on Sept. 30 & Oct. 2

In a change of pace from such recent kaleidoscopic knockouts as My Golden Years (NYFF53) and Ismael’s Ghosts (NYFF55), Arnaud Desplechin shows a different and no less impressive side of his mastery with this taut policier, based on a true murder case. The scene of the crime is Roubaix, the city in Northern France where Desplechin was born and where he’s set many of his films. Here, during a somber Christmas season, a middle-aged, French-Algerian detective is investigating the fatal strangulation of a poor, elderly woman in her apartment, with suspicion falling on her next-door neighbors, two young white women with a complicated interpersonal bond. Desplechin turns what might have been a lurid thriller into a work of engrossing psychological portraiture and socioeconomic inquiry that pays exquisite attention to the nuances of each remarkable performance, including Roschdy Zem as police captain Douad, and Léa Seydoux and Sara Forestier as the suspects.