You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Cannes Film Review: ‘You and the Night’

This alternately sensuous and silly pastiche suggests director Yann Gonzalez may be the next Almodovar or Ozon.

Kate Moran, Niels Schneider, Nicolas Maury, Eric Cantona, Fabienne Babe, Julie Bremond, Alain Fabien Delon, Beatrice Dalle.

Ali and Mathias are planning an orgy, but before the fun can begin, the participants must get to know each other first. One by one, they tell their stories in director Yann Gonzalez’s “You and the Night,” transporting audiences to artificial spaces that stand in for fantasy and memory. Though this alternately sensuous and silly pastiche borrows more than it invents, indications suggest Gonzalez may be the next Almodovar or Ozon (a budding Araki, at least), heralding the arrival of a new gay-cinema darling amid his cast of pretty young things, which includes the feature debut of Alain Fabien Delon.

It was bound to happen: After nearly a decade of hearing up-and-coming directors extol the influence of 1970s American movies on their work, we can finally discern the imprint that ’80s culture made on the subsequent generation of storytellers (such as Xavier Dolan, from whom Gonzalez steals golden-haired boy-god Niels Schneider to play the eyepatched Mathias). The influence of that period isn’t always positive, shifting the priority from well-rounded, warts-and-all characters to superficial aesthetics and a certain pseudo-punk sensibility, but it’s a sexy space in which to stage psychosexual mind games, even if the material sometimes suffers.

Opening with an ultra-stylized camp image stolen either from Kenneth Anger or Alain Robbe-Grillet, the film witnesses Gonzalez’s muse, Kate Moran (who plays Ali), stolen from Mathias by an anonymous biker — a soap-bubble dream that pops into the equally unreal world these two young lovers share with their transvestite maid (Nicolas Maury). Retreating from the cold exterior into the sterile, stage-like safety of their apartment, the trio await the arrival of their four guests: the Slut (Julie Bremond), the Teen (Delon), the Stud (Eric Cantona) and the Star (Fabienne Babe).

Popular on Variety

This could be the setup for “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” or “Clue” or any number of remote gatherings of mismatched guests, though these ravenous souls have deliberately come in search of a group-sex thrill and will leave transformed by the experience, reassembled into a misfit family of sorts (like an X-rated “The Breakfast Club,” to borrow a reference from the pic’s press notes). Naturally, the erotic undercurrent — which manifests itself in several arthouse-appropriate zingers — limits the film to a relatively small audience, but then, how many people were ever going to line up to see what one might describe as a psychosexual “No Exit” for the MTV generation?

The trouble with “You and the Night” (whose original French title means “Meetings After Midnight”) is that it’s more conceptual than immediate, and yet Gonzalez’s sensibility isn’t poetic enough to pull it off — at least, not yet. There’s no urgency to the proceedings and no obvious direction in which things are going, leaving audiences to trust that its still-unproven director will take them somewhere of interest (by the midway point, the film’s standing-room-only screening in the Cannes market was 95% empty).

The titillation factor should be enough for some, paying off royally with the revelation of the monstrous appendage that set a prepubescent poet on his path to becoming the Stud, for example. Still, what little emotion the pic manages to stir results almost entirely from the entrancing electronic score by M83 (the French group responsible for “Oblivion”). Tech credits are somewhat lacking, particularly in the pic’s too-hollow sound design, though the low-budget aesthetic is on par with that first wave of Sundance-made indies that arrived from 1989 forward. With greater resources — and a better script — Gonzalez would surely shine.

Cannes Film Review: 'You and the Night'

Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Critics’ Week — Special Screening.) Running time: 92 MIN. Original title: "Les Rencontres d'apres minuit"

Production: (France) A Potemkine release of a Sedna Films, Garidi Films production in association with Mezzanine, La Vie est Belle Films, Ostinato Films, Acis Prod., with the participation of CNC. (International sales: Films Boutique, Berlin.) Produced by Cecile Vacheret.

Crew: Directed, written by Yann Gonzalez. Camera (color, 35mm), Simon Beaufils; editor, Raphael Lefevre; music, M83; production designer, Sidney Dubois; costume designer, Justine Pearce; sound, Jean-Barthelemy Velay, Damien Boitel, Xavier Thieulin.

With: Kate Moran, Niels Schneider, Nicolas Maury, Eric Cantona, Fabienne Babe, Julie Bremond, Alain Fabien Delon, Beatrice Dalle.

More Film

  • Billy Dee William Star Wars the

    Billy Dee Williams on Getting Back Into Lando's Cape for 'The Rise of Skywalker'

    A long time ago (1980) in a galaxy far, far away (where a movie ticket cost about $5), Billy Dee Williams first played Lando Calrissian, the smooth-talking smuggler-turned-administrator of Cloud City in “The Empire Strikes Back.” Despite having about 15 minutes of total screen time in “Empire” and “Return of the Jedi,” the character stole [...]

  • 1917 Movie

    How Sam Mendes and Roger Deakins Pulled Off the One-Shot War Epic '1917'

    When cinematographer Roger Deakins opened the script for “1917,” he was greeted with the news that the entire, two-hour World War I epic would unfold as one continuous shot. “I thought, ‘Oh my God,’” Deakins remembers. “This is a gimmick.” Gimmick or not, it’s certainly the aspect of “1917” that’s generated the lion’s share of [...]

  • Parasite

    What Happens When a Best International Film Nominee Is Also a Best Picture Contender?

    There is, in the Oscar prognostication game, no such thing as a sure bet. But as close as we’re likely to get this year is Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” receiving South Korea’s first-ever best international film (formerly best foreign language film) Academy Award nomination. In 2018, Lee Chang-dong’s brilliant “Burning” was the first South Korean [...]

  • Ryuichi Sakamoto poses during a photo

    Oscar Winning Composer Ryuichi Sakamoto Signs Publishing Deal With Kobalt (EXCLUSIVE)

    Ryuichi Sakamoto, the Oscar and Golden Globe-winning composer renowned for scores ranging from 1983’s “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence” to 2015’s “The Revenant,” has signed on with Kobalt for a publishing deal that covers most of his catalogue around the world, with the exception of his native Japan. “Kobalt is an exciting company,” Sakamoto said in [...]

  • John Boyega

    John Boyega on if He'll Do More 'Star Wars': 'You Ain't Going to Disney Plus Me!'

    If you know anything about “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” it’s that the movie from director J.J. Abrams marks the official conclusion of the three-trilogy Skywalker Saga. But that does not necessarily mean that the characters created for the final trilogy — especially Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) [...]

  • Nathalia, Juan-pablo, Andrés (L-R)

    Magma Cine, Chemistry Unveil Strategic Production Alliance (EXCLUSIVE)

    Magma Cine, a pioneering company on the pan-Latin American co-production scene, and top Mexican post-production house Chemistry have sealed a strategic alliance to produce high-quality contents. Unveiled at Buenos Aires’ Ventana Sur, the partnership aims to respond to the strong appetite of regional OTT services as well as pan-regional studios, and forms part of an [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content