QUICK SNAP: TALLINN
The doctor drops the bombshell in the very first scene: Emma (Guri Glans) has a highly aggressive lymphoma and less than three months to live. She could fall sick in a few days, or in a couples of weeks, and then quickly deteriorate. The despondent young mother, who also happens to be a doctor, goes straight home, picks her children up and drops them with the older, doting and maternal Froydis (Marie Louise Tank). She then takes a flight to Northern Norway in the hope to persuade her estranged husband to divorce her. They separated two years earlier, and she is terrified that he could claim the guardianship of the children after she succumbs to the disease.
Upon meeting encountering her ex-husband in the middle of tennis match, and failing to engage in a conversation with him, Emma accidentally comes into contact with his current partner going into labour, a woman called Nina. Thanks to her medical skills, she assists the poor woman. What follows is an even clunkier domestic violence plot, which then morphs into a shabby courtroom ordeal. The film is sealed up with a resolution that’s beyond awkward.
The only positive comment I can make about Night is that it has heart at the right place. Everything else is all over the place. This Norwegian movie is a masterclass of everything you shouldn’t have in film: a terrible script, irregular grain textures, awful lighting, unnecessary jump cuts, lukewarm performances, no make-up (a dying person should look remotely ill), a camera that unexpectedly jostles, and a creepy ending that will make you cringe. Even the audio engineering is noticeably bad: there is a lot of echo in the indoors sequences. A little of bit of ADR could have helped, too: voices change abruptly, a sign of poor sound capturing choices.
The Norwegian director was indeed part of the Dogme 95 movement, and has presumably attempted to incorporate some of the manifest’s “10 commandments” into her 2022 film. She seems to think that she can craft a sense of tension by simply adding a jump cut two or three times a minute. That of course won’t work if your script and your actors are substandard. That’s when the editing technique becomes entirely gratuitous. Make no mistake: this is neither Lars von Trier nor Jean-Luc Godard. This isn’t experimental cinema, either. Instead, Night looks like a student film put together in less than two weeks.
Night has just premiered in the Official Competition of the 26th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.