Akerman here show 50-odd stories, but only picks the most melodramatic moment in each story, moments of meeting, parting, longing, and despair. The film is brilliantly filmed, using a still camera for the most part. There are twenty-three camera movements, all but one simple pans and tilts. The film is funny and intellectually satisfying. Viewers need to give it a chance, for it does not announce its intentions, and those accustomed to the usual narrative will find it difficult to get into the film. It is, however, well worth the effort. A very great film indeed.
Toute une nuit
Toute une nuit
Keywords: woman director
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Following over two dozen different people in the almost wordless atmosphere of a dark night in a Brussels town, Akerman examines acceptance and rejection in the realm of romance.
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A brilliant depiction of a multitude of melodramatic moments--all taking place on one hot Brussels night.
Good Chantal Akerman, but not great Chantal Akerman!
Toute une nuit (1982) ("All Night Long") was written and directed by Chantal Akerman. Akerman is one of my favorite directors, but she's not at her best in this film.
The basic plot is a series of pairings that take place during a warm night in Brussels. Some of the characters live in the same building, but I don't think any couple interacts with any other couple in the movie.
The film is dark, and the couples are not highly attractive. I have to admit that the action didn't fly by--it was a long 80 minutes.
On the other hand, Akerman has the courage to stay with a scene when other directors would cut away. Better still, she often continues the scene when the principal actors have left the frame. It's only then that the viewer discovers the characters that have been literally and figuratively in the background. Their stories might be as interesting as the stories we are following. Maybe they'll be in Akerman's next film. Maybe she's already made that film, and I just don't know it.
Romance in brief
Chantal Akerman's movies can be disconcerting: she is on the one hand a highly sensual filmmaker, with a great interest in textures and surfaces, and on the other hand, she can be highly conceptual. This combination can result in films which are enticingly seductive, or it can result in films which are abruptly alienating.
Of all her films, TOUTE UNE NUIT is one of the most seductive. Set during one night, it's a series of vignettes, some no more than a glimpse of a few seconds, of people at night. People sitting in bars near closing time. People sitting at home, waiting. People walking at night. The sense of anticipation, of yearning, becomes palpable.
Some vignettes are longer, but all these stories are fragmented: we're not given a real beginning, though we are given a few endings. There is no real dialogue: we just see a few gestures, a little action, but that's all.
People alone in a bar, then noticing each other. Will they make some sort of contact? A little girl packing her little suitcase: is she running away? Where? It's like we're given the bits and pieces of a larger narrative, but we have to decide what these bits and pieces mean. And then there are those encounters. Someone waiting alone in an apartment, when another person finally arrives. Two people running into each other on the street. All the meetings, often culminating in a kiss, seem to distill the most intense romantic desires.
We want these strangers to find a way not to be alone, and that desire on our part creates a tension which is tactile and erotic. Of course, Akerman has populated her night world with highly attractive people, so we are in a fantasy world of desire. TOUTE UNE NUIT is one of the most romantic movies that i've ever seen; it's funny that Akerman's most famous movie, JEANNE DIELMAN, is a long movie composed of very lengthy takes, while this movie is relatively short, with sharply edited, staccato little scenes. TOUTE UNE NUIT is almost the antithesis of JEANNE DIELMAN, but it shows Akerman in a romantic mood which is filled with yearning, desire and affection.