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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...


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 »


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 »


lmages of night and images of love are ... interwoven with each other, couples ... meet and separate, fragments of life are ... captured in short scenes. They don't tell ... a story, and yet, they ... More »


“Like Jacques Demy on speed.” - Time Out ... Chantal Akerman's candy-coloured musical is set entirely in a Parisian shopping mall, in an unashamed celebration of 80s French pop, young love and ... More »


Akerman's Man With a Suitcase, starring herself, is an unexpected mixture of Chaplinesque comedy and poignant self-mockery. ... Returning home to write a film script and desperately needing the ... More »


Chantal Akerman's Golden Eighties is an exuberant witty tongue-in-cheek musical for the modern age. The inescapable comparison is with the light-opera musicals of Jacques Demy, but Akerman's touch is ... More »

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