Les passagers de la nuit (2022)
“Les Passagers de la Nuit”, being Mikhaël Hers’ fourth feature, premiered in the prestigious competition of the Berlin International Film Festival.
The main point of the movie lies in Éric Rohmer’s “Les Nuits de la Pleine Lune” referenced in the theater, that the free-spirited characters should not be criticized, but only to be observed, or possibly emphathized. Not only Hers praises the cinema through their character’s words, he also tributes French cinema with the other references of Jacques Rivette’s Le Pont du Nord (1981) and Claire Denis’s Jacques Rivette le Veilleur (1990). The characters are unexpectedly mesmerized when they accidentally find themselves in a theater showing Les Nuits de la Pleine Lune instead of what they had planned to see.
The movie does not have any political concern having shown François Mitterrand’s election as the French President in 1981 or by the innocent political actions of Judith (the daughter of the house), rather it displays the optimist vibe of the French left-wing society at the time. But wait, what makes the director choice shifting its films between 8mm, 16mm and 35mm, using of the filters and including some footage back then? A simple yearning or his individual memories and experiences? Editing these grainy images together with the digital ones drifts the audience between an alienation effect or the overpraise of nostalgia.
The biggest hit that keeps the movie worth seeing is the acting skills of the main characters. While the characters emotionally experience the existential pains of their own little worlds, they carefully avoid big words and it’s us the audience left with the choice to feel sympathy for them in this unpretentious melodrama. We very often see Elizabeth stuck in the framed big windows, in the radio building or in her home in the suburb of Paris. Also Talulah, who choose to live only in the present, has already attracted the audience with her free spirit.
Yet we are left with only the anti-heroes who are the passengers of the nights in Paris in the end. Les Passagers de la Nuit is a production that cannot reach the level of the films it’s referring to and cannot claim any further than being a modest or weak melodrama.
Where did I watch it: Films by The Sea IFF, Vlissingen, The Netherlands