Despite the Night
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English musician Lenz searches for his lover Madeleine, who has mysteriously disappeared, but tumbles into an amour fou with troubled, self-destructive Héléne. Grieving the loss of her infant son, Héléne seeks oblivion in the murky subterranean world of a brutal sex ring, followed by Lenz. A stark, elliptical, hauntingly spectral narrative with scenes of sensual abandon and raw carnality.
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In my mind, Malgré la nuit has made a nest; it is there..
Grandrieux's film, one notices straight away, is very delicately handled, regardless of the subject matter
The film exists in a dark, conceptual nightmare for it's inhabitants; a psychotic and weary, harrowed existence
The characters are crowded in by blank space, dark matter, trying to reach for the light, but succumbed to the night.
The environment is claustrophobic, tight, reflecting their mindset; there is no outside living world, merely an underworld; the characters move silently through the black fog like wraiths, the living dead; demented, torturous, but trying to grasp at the threads of their existence
Grandrieux casts a spell, he conjures a mystical energy; he shrouds the world in darkness, a fugue
The characters wonder through this nightmarish landscape, without knowing their future, without knowing anything, merely pray to the night
There is a dark, strange atmosphere here..an almost magical dreamscape; accented more through the parts of abstraction and layers, the singer, who words become her life; they rumble around her, they rumble in the environment; they shatter the screen and all the lives of these characters
The characters engage in small episodes of love and passion, but, it is only a small act against the backdrop of corruption and destruction
Bodies float and linger; old bodies, young bodies; bodies blindly sharp and clear, float off, into a dark vortex of nothingness, out of focus, gone. Grandrieux grabs our soul through bodies, between bodies, the space between us, bodies it; shining souls lost in an apocalyptic world
Malgré la nuit is a land scape for the desolation of the soul
The brutal forging of sadomasochistic dreams, desire; nasty, primal; man revealed as an animal, primordial aggression and anger
Extreme close-ups, blurred; the shaking of human life in it's darkest state; desolate; the evaporation of the soul; suicidal, self-destructive
Yet, at times, through all this hate, annihilation, there is hope in this twirled web of black life; moments of beauty, euphoric moments; passion overbears. Lenz and the characters must fight against the overcoming tide of darkness.
Moments lost in time, an elemental scene of beauty in song
Angst, passion, tears; throbbing sounds into the opaque, somber landscape and soundscape
Astral, primal, entities, bodies, shifting shapes; the divine, eternal, elysian
As much as anything, Malgré la nuit reveals the dark undergrowth of the world like Irreversible; the dark twilight state where goodness sleeps, and the evil dark reigns
Paris is transformed into an otherworldly dimension
The power of love elevates, but also chains us, bring us to our knees in our mind, for the passion burns in us like a ferocious fire, love potentially leading us into black, toxic flames; for we throw ourselves to the flames; we must fall and let ourselves fall to reach calm stillness.
As much as finding others, it is a journey for Lenz and the others to find their soul, themselves; a celestial taking, celestial beings
Beauty, love; to love so strongly is a force of power...
"Everything fades, even suffering, everything disappears"
The fish is used as an analogy, yet is no less profound; the fish, moves slowly, only thinks about moving around the box; caved in, yet ultimately fufilled.
If we slowed like fish, perhaps life would be easier. They think about only on thing, are clearer in mind; they can live happily, yet this is impossible for humanity, as we are too far past forward
As the character says, because we know we're going to die, and the fish doesn't.
Malgré la nuit is an intense, cathartic experience; a blinding astonishing light, a profound shock
Through the darkness, there is still poignancy and humanity; in the face of brutality
For Grandrieux, there is hope here, perhaps one of his most hopeful films; there is hope for our characters, light notes upon a dark sonata
It is also a spiritual undertaking, more so one of the most spiritual films for Grandriex
Despite The Night, there is light and beauty; cries and screams thunder through the night, fire, yet colors of ochre gold and light will shine....
I should at this point say that I really did not get this movie. At the time of writing, there is one other review - a five star review which is possibly for this movie; it really is hard to tell. If you haven't already done so, read Seb's review. I'll wait.
Ah good, you're back. Ok, if what you read excited you, and you understand what the review was saying, then by all means watch the movie; I expect you'll love it. You'll get the hidden meanings, and will be able to deduce the story hidden beneath the surface.
However, if you're like me and imagine that was akin to the Emperor describing his new clothes so he doesn't look foolish, then you will not enjoy the film.
It was full of lengthy scenes where nothing happened, or if it did, it appeared to have no relevance to the rest of the story. For example, an early scene showed an elderly man have a bed bath. I did not see any of the people in that scene again in the film, and nothing in that scene had any impact as far as I could tell to any future events. It may well be that they did appear later, but if so, I did not recognise them.
Another example is a three minute scene where a woman very slowly walks through a wood for some reason, phones someone, exchanges a few words with someone on a phone, and then continues to slowly walk. But that example of nothingness pales into insignificance compared to the five minute scene of an extreme close-up of swimming fish, where the fish are used as a projection screen to show a conversation.
To me, this film is all imagery and no narrative. This is probably a great film if you can speak Pretentious, but that isn't me.
So, if you are the sort of person who fully understood all the hidden meanings of 2001: A Space Odyssey and you weren't using grass at the time, this film may well be for you. For everyone else, avoid.