You And The Night

****

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

You And The Night
"It's bold, impetuous and willing to bite off far more than it can chew. One doesn't see enough of this sort of thing these days."

The type of film that will make some viewers flee for fear of art, others flee for fear of porn and still more mutter is disapproval that they don't understand what's going on. You And The Night is destined to win début director Gonzalez a solid fan following. It's bold, impetuous and willing to bite off far more than it can chew. One doesn't see enough of this sort of thing these days.

The plot, to put it simply, hinges on the hostess (Kate Moran), her young lover (Niels Schneider), their transvestite maid (Nicolas Maury) and their plan to hold an orgy in their remote home, whose interior looks like a Nineties techno club. Invited to join them are the Stud (Eric Cantona), the Slut (Julie Brémond), the Teenager (Alain Delon's son Alain-Fabien Delon) and the mysterious Star (Fabienne Babe). One doesn't start an orgy, however, without breaking the ice, and as the various characters tell their stories, the emotional and erotic dynamic between them shifts. Their various tales take us on what feels like a tour of French cinematic motifs, though there are also references to Spanish and Italian tradition. It becomes less and less certain where the truth lies. Are we still in the real world, or is something supernatural occurring? Perhaps it's simply that, in agreeing to be part of the social proscribed activity, these seven people have stepped outside life as we habitually understand it, into a place where they can make their own rules. But if that's the case, why are they so full of sadness?

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As we journey among the familiar tropes of erotica, the film acquires a curiously asexual atmosphere. There are musings on the brutality of the outside world (including a spectacular cameo for Béatrice Dalle as a masochistic sexual predator) which hint at the damage done by stigmatising certain forms of sexuality, but social cruelty is no less present inside the house, and the Slut, ironically the most conventional character, keeps threatening to break the spell through he focus on the material. Brémond sometimes recalls David Lynch's Perdita Durango with her aggressive and ultimately tragic performance as an archetype rarely permitted this degree of flexibility.

Overall, the standout is Cantona, who is not afraid to send up his own image ("I am really a poet. I curse the cock that has torn me from my destiny") and provide some of the film's best comic moments while also revealing a depth he hasn't previously shown as an actor as he finds something unexpected in the increasingly wayward gathering. Not every actor gives as much and there are places where some judicious editing might have helped with the pacing, but Gonzalez keeps things balanced surprisingly well in what was always going to be a challenging set-up. Meanwhile his brother Anthony, better known as M83, provides an inventive electronic score that keeps this interesting to listen to even when the narrative falters.

The sort of film that wouldn't be quite as effective if it had been more smoothly put together, You And The Night heralds a fresh talent well worth keeping an eye on.


You And The Night is out in cinemas from 3 October and on DVD from 10 November.

Reviewed on: 25 Sep 2014
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A couple prepare to welcome guests for the evening but the atmosphere is tense.
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Director: Yann Gonzalez

Writer: Yann Gonzalez

Starring: Kate Moran, Niels Schneider, Nicolas Maury, Eric Cantona, Fabienne Babe, Alain Delon Jr.

Year: 2013

Runtime: 91 minutes

Country: France


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