You And The Night (Les Rencontres d’Après Minuit)
Dir: Yann Gonzalez
Cert: 18 • France: 98 min • Sedna Films / Peccadillo Pictures • October 3, 2014
Andrew Darley reviews
You And The Night (or its original translated French title Meetings After Midnight) examines how the mind comes alive at night. Yann Gonzalez’s first full-length film follows a suave, young couple and their cross-dressing maid as they prepare themselves for a passionate orgy with strangers. Its sexual premise is enticing; as their guests arrive, each with a specific person (The Slut, The Star, The Stud and The Teen), it begins to feel like an erotic film adaptation of Cluedo. Once all members arrive, it’s agreed that they should get to know each other before embarking on their liaisons. One by one, each character speaks of their past and what has led them here on this night.
Gonzalez suspends his script on the dreams, fantasies and memories of his characters. In doing so, nothing within is certain and becomes a vehicle of ambiguity. He does not willingly offer any insight into where we the film is set, its timeframe, who we’re watching and what, if any, is their relationship to each other. The space in which the majority of the film is set is modern and sleekly designed with no visible windows to the outside world, giving it this removed, sci-fi quality where it really could be happening anywhere and in any time.
Much like the boardgame Cluedo, each character comes with a very distinct personality with even more dissimilar features. Fabienne Babe gives a rousing performance as an aging actress, as she plays out and comes to terms with her insecurities amongst the group. Beatrice Dalle (of Betty Blue notoriety) makes a brief appearance as a lusty dominatrix. Eric Cantona steals a lot of the film’s focus as the hunky philanderer whose youthful dream of becoming a poet was dashed once he discovered his enormous penis and those who subsequently adored it. Therein lies the particular humour that Gonzalez laces through his work, in which those who take this film too seriously will recoil in its silliness. He balances both the light and the dark with his kitsch, often absurd, humour in tangent with his awareness of sensuality and the spectrum of human emotions.
A key component of the film’s narrative is its soundtrack, composed by Yann’s brother and M83’s brainchild, Anthony Gonzalez. His renowned epic arrangements orchestrates the internal worlds of the characters and their emotional dynamic. Although they may appear still on the surface, rivers run deep underneath. It appears a perfect pairing that they should join forces, since M83’s records has been significantly inspired by cinema, youth and the role of dreams. Also, in the room where the tryst is to take place, a sensory jukebox stands which functions by playing music based on the psyche of the person that touches it – it’s a moment of pure ecstasy when Ruth’s coldwave ‘Mots’ throbs amongst the group. The music Gonzalez includes remains as divisive as the dialogue of the characters.
Nothing is certain in Gonzalez’s world and it is this aspect which grips the senses from start to finish. The way he weaves flashbacks, fantasies and dreams throughout creates this uncanny feeling, in which its scenes feel at once both strange and familiar. From the comical to the sensual, his debut full-length shows his unique perspective and apparent resistance to fitting into a particular genre. As his characters describe the thoughts that haunt them, the writer and director captures a serene beauty in which they are bound together by the night and their collective dream of being no longer afraid. This film suggests that even if things go bump in the night, other things may also come into the light.