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).

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

  • Noe Debre On His Directorial Debut,

    Top French Screenwriter Noe Debre Make Directorial Debut, ‘The Seventh Continent’

    This last half-decade, few French screenwriters have run up such an illustrious list of co-write credits as Noé Debré. Thomas Bedigain’s writing partner on Jacques Audiard’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Deephan,” Debra co-penned Bedigain’s own debut, “The Cowboys,” “Racer and the Jailbird,” by Michael Roskam, and “Le Brio,” directed by Yvan Attal. He has now [...]

  • Julien Trauman Talks Survival-Thriller Short ‘At

    Julien Trauman on Survival-Thriller Short ‘At Dawn’

    France’s Julien Trauman has never been afraid to play with genre, and in his latest short, the MyFrenchFilmFestival participant “At Dawn,” he employs aspects of psychological thriller, survival, coming-of-age and fantasy filmmaking. “At Dawn” kicks off the night before when a group of teens, one about to leave town, are imbibing heavily around a beach-side [...]

  • ‘Flowers’ Director Baptiste Petit-Gats Interview

    Baptiste Petit-Gats: ‘Editing Taught Me How to Write for Film’

    France’s Baptiste Petit-Gats is an hyphenate that keeps himself plenty busy editing, photographing, writing and directing. The bulk of his editing gigs up until now have been in documentary film work, evident in the way he shot and edited his own short film, participating in the MyFrenchFilmFestival, “Flowers.” In the film, Petit-Gats tells the heartbreaking [...]

  • Fanny Litard, Jérémy Trouilh on ‘Blue

    France’s Fanny Liatard, Jérémy Trouilh Discuss MyFFF Suburban Fable ‘Blue Dog’

    French filmmakers Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh met at university while studying political science before diverging towards separate careers. Trouilh trained in documentary filmmaking; Liatard worked on urban artistic projects in Lebanon and France. They eventually joined back up to film three shorts: “Gagarine,” a Sundance Channel Shorts Competition Jury Prize winner in 2016; “The [...]

  • MFFF: 'The Collection' Director Blanchard Readies

    'The Collection' Director Emmanuel Blanchard Readies First Feature

    Paris-born Emmanuel Blanchard studied and then taught history before becoming a documentary filmmaker responsible for films such as “Bombing War,” “Le diable de la République” and “Après la guerre.” He’s currently directing “Notre-Dame de Paris”, a 90-minute animated part-doc, part-fiction film on the building of the world-famous Paris cathedral. Competing at MyFFF, “The Collection” is [...]

  • Dragon Ball Super: Broly

    Film Review: ‘Dragon Ball Super: Broly’

    Late in “Dragon Ball Super: Broly,” the 20th Japanese anime feature in a 35-year-old franchise that also has spawned scads of TV series, trading cards, video games, mangas, and limited-edition collectibles, a supporting character complains, “I don’t understand a single thing you’ve said the whole time.” If you’re among the heretofore uninitiated drawn to this [...]

  • Loco Films Boards 'Paper Flag' From

    Loco Films Boards 'Paper Flag' From Promising New Director Nathan Ambrosioni (EXCLUSIVE)

    Loco Films has come on board “Paper Flag” (“Les Papiers de drapeaux”), the feature debut of 18-year old French director Nathan Ambrosioni. The film explores the ambivalent relationship between two siblings and the concept of freedom. Guillaume Gouix (“The Returned”) stars as a young adult who has just got out of jail after 12 years [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content