You And The Night (2013) dir- Yann Gonzalez
Eden (2014) dir – Mia Hansen-Love
Two touches of Gallic cinema to make one question one’s existence which is the very least one expects from French movies, aside from horrendously broad comedy hijinks. Although, in fairness is a global cultural symptom born from a need to cling on to a sense of certainty within a national identity. I digressed like a son of a bitch there, apologies.
How to explain You And The Night? I have to give credit to the superb arts culture discussion website The Talkhouse for turning me on to this unique work, in particular film-maker Zach Clark’s brilliant piece championing Yann Gonzalez’ film.
I will do my best to summarize but will probably stumble. Let’s say it’s like experiencing someone else’s quite overwhelmingly erotic, strange, pretentious sensuous dream brought to life. And being a Manchester United fan since I was a teen, it’s probably the first and last film to feature the great, imperious United legend Eric Cantona’s c**k and in the most matter of fact way that fits with the sustained half awake, half-asleep mood of the movie.
The basic storyline or framework brings several archetypes with names such as The Stud (Cantona!), The Slut, The Star and the Teenager, all whom arrive as guests to the house of a couple and their transvestite maid in order to take part in a midnight pansexual orgy.
From there, each guest share their stories and sexual desires while the characters exists in a world somewhere between fantasy and reality, life and death. Oh, and there is a sensory jukebox in the living room where said orgy is supposed to take place, each song reflecting a characters state of mind.
For some, this type of film will be insufferable. It’s both unashamedly pretentious, poetic and innocent; underneath its art-sleaze veneer, it is at heart a tender plea for acceptance and love that just happens to tip its hat to both outre european art cinema – it even features a cameo Beatrice Dalle of Betty Blue fame as a dominatrix – and soft porn euro trash to create a strange but intoxicating brew of high and low culture.
It also features a fantastic score by M83 aka Anthony Gonzalez – who perhaps not coincidentally – is the director’s brother. His work here is in my humble opinion, more compelling and focused than his new album Junk which is well..all over the shop and somewhat unfocused.
But then, I was a fan of his work on the 2013 Tom Cruise sci-fi flick Oblivion which some hardcore M83 fans may have viewed as something of an artistic compromise. So what do i Know? Judge the film for yourself, if you are feeling adventurous.
Eden, the trailer of which I discussed here before, exists firmly within a possible reality, drawing a compelling side story from the history of electro-house giants Daft Punk. First time actor Felix de Givry plays Paul,a Paris based house DJ over the course of two decades from the mid 1990’s to present day, his career and life path taking a somewhat different turn to his successful contemporaries.
His passion for the music he plays remains undimmed but the windows of opportunity slowly close as he gets older and he slowly finds himself at an existential crossroads, sensing that the scene has passed him by. Mia Hansen-Love’s film is an sentimental, unforced character and by extension cultural study with a melancholy undertow that mostly defies easy resolutions or cheap dramatics and ends on a somewhat ambiguous yet hopeful note for Paul.