You and the Night (2013) | This lyrical paean to love, death and sexual prowess is an outré delight
Around midnight, a stylish young couple and their transgender maid prepare for an orgy. Their guests will be The Slut, The Star, The Stud and The Teen. Each comes with their own dark and impassioned secrets, unravelled in flashbacks and admissions, in a night they’ll never forget…
The spirit of underground arthouse cinema lurks within the sensual stylings of this surreal arthouse oddity from writer-director Yann Gonzales, whose feature debut was met with mixed reviews on its original cinema release earlier this year. But I love it (I’ve seen it three times already) and I am totally turned on by the shimmering score by French electronic band M83.
Taking place within a vast Brutalist building set in a wintery woodland, Gonzales’ existential dream play, Les recontres d’apres minuit (in the original French), follows seven characters who, over the course of a night of debauchery and soul-searching, have their emotional wounds healed through their contact with each other. Imagine fusing The Breakfast Club, The Hunger, Jean Cocteau’s Orphée and Tales from the Crypt with some Pedro Almodóvar kitsch and some Bava/Argento-styled giallo, all set within an über cool 1980s aesthetic, and you’ll be on the mark.
Our hosts Ali (Kate Moran) and Matthias (Niels Schneider) are lovers granted eternal youth by Udo (Nicolas Maury), a transgender witch who brought Matthias back to life in exchange for the couple’s undying love. But Matthias is suffering terrible nightmares, which threatens to upset the threesome’s centuries-old union. Their orgy is a way of forgetting reality, but ends up becoming much more for them and their guests.
The cock-hungry Slut (Julie Brémond) is a lonely soul grieving over never having her mother’s love; the self-conscious Star (Fanienne Babe) reveals an incestuous secret that may just be a fantasy; the well-hung Stud (Eric Cantona) is in search of poetry as well as prowess; and the sex-addicted Teen (Alain-Fabien Delon) desperately wants a loving family to take him in.
While it looses by points going all introspective at the halfway mark (like a bad come down after an acid trip) and playing it safe with the tantric sex orgy scene, You and the Night is peppered with echoes of cinema’s arthouse past that make it a visually arresting delight. Its the reason why I love it so.
The opening motorbike dream sequence is lifted from Alain Robbe-Grillet’s 1983 erotic drama La belle captive; the stormy setting and sexual antics smacks of the 1975 black comedy Thundercrack!; the prison setting where The Stud gets whipped by Dalle dressed as Ilsa the Tigress of Siberia has a minimalist Derek Jarman look; and Ali and Matthias’ story is told in hyper-real flashback à la Fassbinder’s Querelle. The sparkling diamond dress worn by The Star, meanwhile, could almost be a copy of Delphine Seyrig’s gown in Harry Kümel’s Daughters of Darkness. Intentional or not, it’s the most fun I’ve had watching a movie in ages. Now if only that sensory jukebox was a reality.
You and the Night is released on DVD on 24 November in the UK from Peccadillo Pictures
Posted on November 24, 2014, in Avant Garde, Must-See, World Cinema and tagged Alain Robbe-Grillet, Alain-Fabien Delon, Avant Garde, Daughters of Darkness, Derek Jarman, Eric Cantona, Homoerotic fantasy, Kate Moran, M83, Must See, Nicolas Maury, Niels Schneider, Peccadillo Pictures, Querelle, Tales From the Crypt, The Breakfast Club, World Cinema, Yann Gonzales. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.