Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Night is Young on CINEMOI

We strongly recommend to watch Leos Carax "The Night Is Young" ("Mauvais Sang") on the French movie channel, Cinemoi (www.cinemoi.tv), accessible through SKY.

Film Showtimes
Sat 20 Mar - 6:30pm
Mon 22 Mar - 12:30am

‘The Night is Young' (‘Mauvais sang') is a stunning multi-genre and layered work that is hard to pigeonhole. Another unique vision from the incredibly talented and elusive Leos Carax, this unconventional post-modern noir is a must see for all fans of French cinema.

The plot loosely follows the codes of film noir, with its protagonist finding himself roped into a lucrative robbery. Alex (Denis Lavant) has recently lost his father, whose criminal friends, Marc (Michel Piccoli) and Hans (Hans Meyer), believe it was murder by the hand of a notorious gangster called ‘l'Américaine' (The American woman). Known to have inherited the nimble hands of his father, Marc offers Alex a role in their next job: to steal the cure for a new, deadly virus plaguing Paris, STBO, which infects those who make love without being in love. Alex agrees and, having broken up with his girlfriend Lise (Julie Delpy), falls in love with Marc's girlfriend Anna (Juliette Binoche).

Carax's work is a visual feast, which employs the photogenic French capital in a novel way, infusing its streets with colour and vibrancy, while shooting most of his material at night, exploiting the unnerving darkness and shadow play. The incongruous effect is one of a place that is situated within a familiar yet alien time and space. The analogy to the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic is indeed an empirical issue to the film, but the pervading post-apocalyptic aura moves it to a dystopian temporal plane.

Carax's labyrinthine Parisian streets are navigated through stunning camera work, most notably in the sequence that follows Alex's lengthy run along an unending street in homage to Truffaut's extensive tracking of Antoine Doinel's escape in ‘The 400 Blows'. The jolting cinematography is equalled by the film's elliptical and daring structure, which eschews narrative coherency in favour of the evocative affect of the visuals and simmering tensions between characters. Carax is a director who aims directly for the senses and forces of feeling as opposed to those of reason.

This remarkable story, which incorporates elements of thriller, noir, sci-fi and romance, is played to perfection by a cast who stake major holds in contemporary French cinema.

Carax's muse Denis Lavant (‘Les amants du pont neuf', ‘Beau travail') is once again disconcertingly off-beat and displays another physical performance that attests to his roots in theatre and circus. Juliette Binoche, fresh from her breakthrough in Téchiné's ‘Rendez-vous', radiates an enigmatic beauty and disquiet in another assured performance, which signals her impending status as one of THE actresses of her generation. The legendary Michel Piccoli (‘Le Mépris', ‘Les Choses de la vie', ‘La Grande bouffe'), proffers an authenticity to his role as the ageing criminal, who, although on the wane, proves he is a force to be reckoned with. Finally, Julie Delpy makes a César winning performance as the naive Lise (years later Kieslowski would attribute leading roles to Binoche and Delpy in the masterful Three Colours Blue and White respectively).

A bold romantic, Carax is arguably the most genuine inheritor of the New Wave (especially Godard), whose films challenge convention and fashion a completely novel and thrilling form of cinema. ‘The Night is Young' is a prime example of this but unfortunately (and this is where he differs from his prolific Nouvelle Vague influences) is one of only four full-length features this exceptional filmmaker has made. To be savoured accordingly.

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