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NIGHT AND DAY

France / Belgium, 1991 (MIFF 1992)

Director: Chantal Akerman

Considering that she is one of the most con­sistently original filmmakers of our time, ifs difficult to explain the under-currency of Chantal Akerman's work. Put it down to the vagaries of film distribution, and settle back for her latest offering, a bracingly tender and sen­suous account of obsessive passion, the search for romantic fulfilment and the anguished innocence of youth.

It is summer in Paris, and Julie and Jack have abandoned themselves to their all-con­suming love for one another. They live in happy isolation from the outside world, their lives an overlapping ritual of love-making, showers and post-coital discussion. Jack drives taxis at night so that his days can be spent with Julie, but their carefree bliss becomes compli­cated when Jack introduces Julie to his friend Joseph. Joseph drives taxis by day, and before long he and Julie start up a relationship that Julie believes she can control.

Though the film lends itself to comparisons with Truffaut' s Jules et Jim, other influences, like those of Jean Renoir and Eric Rohmer, are stamped throughout. Akerman states that this in part was a result of casting Guiliane Londez in the part of Julie — "Somebody in Renoir's style, not mine. But she convinced me, and with her, I receive Renoir warmly, in a story that is far from being one of his kind."

Night and Day also marks Akerman's return to the narrative formalism of her earlier works, such as Toule tine nuit (Alt Night Long) and Jeanne Dielman. With its breathtaking simplicity and sultry ambience, here is a film to relieve the winter blues, and to rekindle the faith of even the most jaded cinephile.

• Paul Kalina

See also...

FROM THE OTHER SIDE

Chantal Akerman's haunting new documentary focuses on the plight of Mexican workers and their attempts to cross the US border and forge a better life 'on the other side'. ... Akerman sets the story ... More »

ALMAYER'S FOLLY

Belgian filmmaking's most revered auteur returns with a freewheeling adaptation of Joseph Conrad's first novel. ... Atmospheric, subversive and impeccably controlled, Almayer's Folly continues ... More »

JEANNE DIELMAN

In the space of a few years, Jeanne Dielman has become known as one of the most important works of modern cinema. In it the director, Chantal Akerman, while using conventional narrative elements (the ... More »

THE MEETINGS OF ANNA

In 1975, Chantal Akerman made Jeanne Dielrnan, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, and since then, she has been in the forefront of a developing feminist cinema. Les rendez-vous d'Anna Chantal ... More »

THE MEETINGS OF ANNA

In 1975, Chantal Akerman made Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, and since then, she has been in the forefront of a developing feminist cinema. Les rendez-vous d'Anna continues her ... More »

PINA BAUSCH

The film follows the dance group of Pina Bausch in Germany, Italy and Avignon in France during her most recent European tour. It shows the working atmosphere, the presentation, the intense ... More »

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