Fear and Loathing: Emotional Entitlement Reigns in Emond’s debut
In this day and age, it’s debatable whether the human species are better off as solitary mammals, or more apt for sparing and sharing. The duel 30-something year-old protagonists that fill up the frame in Anne Émond’s debut feature appear to be as unsure as they are certain on whether they can be one of one…or two. A late night, one bedroom apartment in a rundown portion in the metropolitan city of Montreal is (at least in the drama’s first act) a lieu where the physical bond brings opposite gender members closer for heavy intellectualizing. With a confidently stripped bare appearance, with no artifice and for a good portion of the film’s 90 runtime without clothes, Nuit #1 might be the more invigorating counter-point to the lazy one night stand themed dramas.
Despite them being from different French-speaking cultures, this is neither a France vs. Quebec nor gender related tale of opposites, but rather an accumulation of abrasive, self-loathing behavior manifested in, and this is where the film’s title is apropos, post-coitus one night stand from the too old be hopeful and too young to be totally numb. In an unkept living space, where ashtrays are in dire need of emptying and where home renovations is strictly a past-time for the yuppie generation, first this becomes a more intimate playground than the lieu where they just met – it transforms into warfare where the male prick character with a Russian name played by Dimitri Storoge sees his arrogance trumped by his faulty prejudices. Actress Catherine de Léan who previously worked on Émond’s short film (Sophie Lavoie), plays a character who hedges her bet before she knows she’ll be wounded, but this female companion for one night is fairly warned their foreshadowed head-butting sessions are as visible as the tat on his abdomen reads “Mea Culpa”.
Émond’s monologue driven film is mostly comprised of long takes and the intimate camera vantage points and the real-time flow (very early morning to early morning period) pin the viewer into submission – there might not be major sweeping emotions or plot points, but all small gestures, lit cigarettes and cues let viewers know that there was a definite working process to what is displayed on-screen. The long introductory sequences that thankfully follow the film’s most stylistic and less interesting aspect (a slo-mo clubbing trance) are refreshing — flesh is presented in a non-traditional movie look and minor disruptions where de Léan’s character of Clara has small significant moments for herself (something about being and feeling desired) has a better effect than what token drugs can do. Film’s closing sequence displays just how the lost generation cope — the inescapable Monday morning after a camouflaged weekend is a fitting, rewarding punch with an ambiguous resolution for the female heroine. Nuit #1 is one more engaging examples of Quebec’s nouvelle vague of auteur cinema.
Reviewed on September 12th at the 2011 Toronto Int. Film Festival – Canada First! Programme