Frédéric Mermoud’s Moka is a revenge potboiler that never quite boils while you’re watching it. Grieving the hit-and-run death of her son, Swiss national Diane (Emmanuelle Devos) retains the services of a classically rumpled private investigator (Jean-Philippe Écoffey). He leads her to suspect that the brown car — or mocha-colored, if you will, and you should because that’s the source of the title — was driven by French beautician Marlène (Nathalie Baye) and her partner Michel (David Clavel).
Diane begins ingratiating herself into their lives, while also becoming involved with a grody younger man (Olivier Chantreau) who can provide her with the gun she’ll need to get her revenge on Marlène and Michel — assuming they were indeed the ones who killed her son, and that she will indeed seek that level of revenge. There’s an undercurrent of class tension between Diane and Marlène, which probably scans more for those in that part of the world, because the areas of France and Switzerland in which Moka takes place both seem plenty exotic to American eyes. That said, the pulpy revenge plotline almost distracts from the potentially more interesting culture-clash between the two women, especially as they’re at different stages of aging out of cultures that are in some ways even more youth-obsessed than ours, and that’s saying something.
Opens Friday at the Opera Plaza Cinema.