Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Quebec After Dark: Nuit #1
Quebec, they have to do something to pass those long cold nights. Two strangers work up quite a sweat, but much
to her annoyance, he insists on talking afterwards . . . and talking and
talking and talking. Eventually though,
they do start saying some interesting things in Anne Émond’s Nuit #1 (trailer here), which opens
today in New York.
ought to be out of unemployed slacker Nikolaï’s league, but she is not very
discriminating in such matters. When she
goes back to his place, it is good for him, but not for her. That is one reason she tries to stealthily
sneak out of there, but it is really just her standard M.O. Intercepting her, Nikolaï tries to engage Clara
in conversation, but she is not very receptive at first. Nonetheless, before the night is out, they
will share things more intimate than sex.
the early rave and hook-up scenes, Émond really unleashes her inner Adrian
Lyne. It is hypnotizing, but ultimately
vacuous, but in a way, this is part of the film’s larger point. For a considerable time, their halting
conversation is tediously forced and laboriously clunky. However, when Clara starts revealing her
inner demons, Nuit #1 breaks some
films like Elles and its ilk, viewers
are constantly assured all varieties of kinky debauchery are really liberating
for women. Clara’s’ story is a sharp
rebuke to such cinematic apologias for deviancy. She forthrightly admits to being a
sex-addict, using casual encounters to compensate for deep-seated emotional
issues. Yet, just like any addict, she
requires more and more stimulus for shorter and shorter highs. Ultimately, what she is doing is not
glamorous. It will be the death of her
and she knows it.
its credit, Nuit #1 does not ignore
the reality of STDs either. In fact,
Clara has had her share in the past—a revelation Nikolaï did not want to
hear. Yet, neither he nor the audience
should be so surprised, given what each has seen during their fateful night
Clara, Catherine De Léan’s performance is viscerally compelling. It is like watching someone literally bare
their soul, which is not such a comfortable thing. Unfortunately, it takes quite a while to
reach the guts of the film. Sure, it
starts out with a bang, so to speak, but there are plenty of options for that
sort of thing, if it is really what you’re looking for in a movie. Essentially, Dimitri Storoge’s Nikolaï plays
the helper role, getting De Léan to her big close-up, but frankly, it is hard
to remember what he looks like a few days after screening Nuit.
Commendably, Émond’s script never takes the easy
way out. Still, the claustrophobic vibe
and ever so slowly building early scenes will make even the hardiest of
cineastes antsy. Despite the slack pace,
it is refreshing to see a film depict the hedonistic party lifestyle’s dark
consequences. Narrowly recommended for
those fascinated by extreme morality tales (think Abel Ferrara instead of
Zalman King) rather than the hipsters who will most likely gravitate to it, Nuit #1 opens today (7/27) in New York
at the Angelika Film Center.
Labels: Canadian Cinema