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