Tonight

Idiosyncratic helmer Werner Schroeter's "Tonight" is about as impenetrable as a film can get while still retaining a semblance of narrative construction.

With:
With: Pascal Greggory, Bruno Todeschini, Amira Casar, Eric Caravaca, Nathalie Delon, Marc Barbe, Jean-Francois Stevenin, Bulle Ogier, Laura Martin, Sami Frey, Elsa Zylberstein, Mostafa Djadjam, Lena Schwarz, Joao Baptista, Pascale Schiller, Oleg Zhukov, Filipe Duarte.

Idiosyncratic helmer Werner Schroeter’s “Tonight” is about as impenetrable as a film can get while still retaining a semblance of narrative construction. It’s easy to follow the protag attempting to secure passage out of a city about to be invaded, but the proliferation of baroque characters, bizarre asides and a scene bordering on kiddie porn turns Schroeter’s normally intriguing, operatic visions into a head-scratching, tedious exercise. Despite slots at two major fests, pic is unlikely to find champions among programmers, let alone auds.

An early shot of nighttime Porto (as the fictional city of Santa Maria) holds out the promise of engrossing visuals, but even here the ultimately theatrical flatness remains either too artificial or not stylized enough. Ossorio (Pascal Greggory) searches for his lover on the eve of invasion, trying to secure tickets on the sole rescue ship in the harbor. He finally gets two from the besieged Barcala (Sami Frey), whose daughter, Victoria (Laura Martin), encounters Ossorio at a very Lynchian hotel. The controlled sense of chaos emasculates any tension, and any ruminations on human behavior during war are lost among the grab bag of ideas.

— Jay Weissberg

Tonight

France - Germany - Portugal

Production: An Alfama Films Production (France)/Filmgalerie 451 (Germany)/Clap Filmes (Portugal) production. (International sales: Alfama Films Production, Paris.) Produced by Paulo Branco, Frieder Schlaich. Executive producer, Eileen Tasca. Directed by Werner Schroeter. Screenplay, Gilles Taurand, Schroeter, based on the novel "Para esta noche" by Juan Carlos Onetti.

Crew: Camera (color), Thomas Plenert; editors, Julia Gregory, Bilbo Calvez; music, Eberhard Kloke; production designer/costume designer, Isabel Branco. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (competing), Sept. 2, 2008. (Also in Toronto Film Festival -- Masters.) French dialogue. Running time: 121 MIN.

With: With: Pascal Greggory, Bruno Todeschini, Amira Casar, Eric Caravaca, Nathalie Delon, Marc Barbe, Jean-Francois Stevenin, Bulle Ogier, Laura Martin, Sami Frey, Elsa Zylberstein, Mostafa Djadjam, Lena Schwarz, Joao Baptista, Pascale Schiller, Oleg Zhukov, Filipe Duarte.

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