With record highs this year in much of the country, it’s been a rather hot summer. Toss in some of the biggest box office receipts in generations, and the starting of a mega-billion dollar franchise with the ending of another (Avengers and Chris Nolan’s Bat-trilogy respectively), and you have one of the biggest blockbuster summers in years, if ever. However, it hasn’t been without its independent greats as well, one of the highest of which being a Canadian import, a film entitled Nuit #1.
Following the story of a man and a woman following a rave-fueled one night stand, Nuit is the latest, and first to be exact, from Canuck filmmaker Anne Emond. Seemingly taking inspiration from a film like Michael Winterbottom’s 9 Songs, Nuit #1 is a meditative look at modern human interactions, and may very well be one of this year’s best independent features.
A first time filmmaker, Emond proves to be a voice to be reckoned with. A true-blue character study, the film’s visual palette is relatively low-key, but for good reason. Allowing the performances and actors giving them room to breathe, the filmmaker adheres Mathieu Laverdiere’s breathtaking, brooding cinematography to a plaintive frame that attempts to be more thoughtful and provocative than stylish and experimental. Jumping from an opening sequence of our two leads being connected, spiritually almost, by the music they so deeply cherish, directly into their carnal playfulness back at an apartment, only to spend a majority of the film finding our couple meditating on life, love, loss and everything in between, Nuit is as talk-heavy as they come, but it’s also both quite thought-provoking, as well as being breathtakingly crafted.
Focusing entirely on these two humans, the film relies entirely on the performances of its two leads. Thankfully, they are top notch. The script, also penned by Emond, feels a tad too stylish (featuring lines that seem to be attempts at uttering true human speech but come off as proselytizing and cartoonish philosophizing), but the performances are straight out of your local apartment complex. The film stars Catherine de Lean and Dimitri Storoge as Clara and Nikolai respectively, both of whom give career making performances. De Lean is great here as Clara, a woman who desperately wants to find some sort of connection, but doesn’t think that’s it’s in the cards for her. She pairs up with the cynical Nikolai, and while their chemistry may not set the screen ablaze, it does breath a sense of emotional depth and truth to a film that otherwise may be a tad too talky for most movie-goers. The connection that inspire their getting together is based entirely on coincidence, a connection based out of similarity. Isn’t that what everyone looks for in a lover? This is that relationship, given one night to live.
Clocking in at roughly an hour and a half, the film suffers from stilted pacing, an issue bred from its existential narrative, and will be a rather tough slog for those looking for something with a tad bigger budget behind it. However, a beautiful and romantic look at the state of modern romance and just how disenchanted this generation has become by everything, including their respective relationships with one another. As icy cold as a winter’s snow, color this film as just the type of grade-A counterprogramming that the film doctors have ordered.