Connect with us
Caroline Poggi Jonathan Vinel Eat the Night Movie Review

Reviews

Eat the Night | 2024 Cannes Film Festival Review

Eat the Night | 2024 Cannes Film Festival Review

The Sway of the Sword: Reality Bytes in Poggi/Vinel’s Bleak Online/Offline Portrait

Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel‘s sophomore feature outing pulses with the heartbeat of survival, where a side passion becomes a lifeline and a main, risky hustle can be quickly yanked away for good. Depicting a tale of navigating off the grid while remaining firmly entrenched in the game regardless of the dwindling days ahead, factoring in a bit of queer, night fever bait and video0-game violence, Eat The Night tries its best while working on a mostly empty stomach. In the duo’s most accomplished work to date in their early career, while some genuinely solid passages a la Dardenne Bros. Rosetta vibrations, certain sequences come across as slightly underdeveloped or excessively heightened.

Building upon themes explored in their 2019 film Jessica Forever, which also delved into outsider communities, apocalyptic atmospheres, and the imperative of coexistence, this focuses on the older brother and younger sister tandem of Pablo (Théo Cholbi) and Apolline (first-time actress Lilia Gueneau), practically abandoned from adult supervision as they find solace from their mundane existence through the immersive world of Darknoon, a video game ingrained in their upbringing. Taking place in a port city, their sanctuary is disrupted when Pablo befriends Night (Erwan Kepoa Falé) and embroils him in his illicit drug trade (look for a fascinating pill-making sequence that essentially describes how the market is filled this bright-colored mind-tripping substances), fracturing the bond between him and Apolline. Essentially Pablo has replaced “noon” for “night.”

As the game nears its conclusion (think a countdown clock for a definite unplugging of a community), and what little they have appears to be coming apart at the seams, Apolline must put away her video game sword to find common ground for basic survival – because after food, shelter, high-speed internet and the loss of her brother — you better else to bring you out of the digital forest than a person who knows the pathway. And this is where a comparable act of compassion and understanding in Benjamin Ree’s The Remarkable Life of Ibelin comes to mind. The documentary demonstrated how people who take on online personas can find their way out of social isolation and remarkably games such as World of Warcraft (which feels like the game featured here) allowed for in-person conflicts to be worked on, worked out and if lucky, resolved in this safer space. We find this here when Apolline connects with what was originally the reason for her world crashing before her eyes.

Le Havre is an interesting backdrop selection – the dwellings with encroachments mismatching with seaside stretches that feel desolate with cinematographer Raphaël Vandenbussche (2022’s Rodéo) favoring an ethereal texture which matches with the score supplied by ssaliva. Poggi/Vinel make great use of blending the online animated sequences and real-life segments and one almost wishes that there were more of this — it becomes more of a creative crutch as the Eat The Night nears its end and underlines that it’s three against the world scheme … but which world exactly?

Reviewed on May 21st at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival –  Directors’ Fortnight. 106 Mins.

★★/☆☆☆☆☆

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

Click to comment

More in Reviews

To Top