Tuesday, September 10, 2013

At NewFest: Yann Gonzalez's raunchy/sweet YOU AND THE NIGHT (yes, music is included)

At NewFest on this past Sunday evening, the nice-looking honcho who introduced the film (along with its writer/director Yann Gonzalez, who was there to say hello and do a Q&A after the screening), noted that the movie, YOU AND THE NIGHT, (Les rencontres d'apres minuit) harks back to the work of Ozon, Almodóvar, Cocteau and Araki. Sort of. You can certainly find traces of all four filmmakers, along with maybe a little Jean-Paul Sartre. But the best thing about M. Gonzalez's movie is that it seems, finally, quite its own thing. This young filmmaker may have been influenced by others (who of us is not?), yet he combines themes, styles and content in such a way that his film becomes what I hope we shall see more of: "a Gonzalez movie."

Before I get too far into over-praising the film (as the NewFest host proceeded to do), I should also say that this is the work of a young man, from whom further growth will surely come (consider the careers of Ozon, Almodóvar and to a lesser extent, Araki). Even now, however, M. Gonzalez (shown at right) possesses the energy and ability to gather up a bizarrely well-chosen cast and put them through paces that begin with what appears some sort of Almodóvarian farce. An orgy is planned for an apparently wealthy and very hot-looking couple -- Niels Schneider (below, center) and Kate Moran (below, left) by its crossing-dressing maid (Nicolas Maury, reclining, in the background). Then by noticeable degrees, the lightness and humor turns darker and lonelier, sadder and deeper, culminating in (as a much more popular and infinitely dumber movie called it), breaking dawn.

Orgy guests include The Slut (Julie Brémond, below, left, who brings an insouciance tempered with, as we soon find, some sadness; and The Stud (Eric Cantona -- below, right, and yes, the famous soccer star turned actor, who here plays a man known for his giant organ who would rather be writing poetry but has let said organ rule his life. We do get quite a lengthy look at the thing, which is itself quite lengthy (and thick). Prosthetic, most likely; if not, M. Cantona is one blessed Frenchman: looks, talent and a truckload  of "personality," as one of my female friends calls the male member.

Also appearing but making her entrance with the lights off, is The Star -- a aging diva played very well by Fabienne Babe, shown below, right.

Completing the seven -- a number so Biblical and mythic! -- is The Adolescent, played by Alain-Fabien Delon (above). And if that name sounds familiar, yes: This kid is indeed the youngest son of the man who was France's reigning beauty during the 1960s, 70s and 80s: Alain Delon. Hard to say at this point what lies in store for the youngest Delon, who can certainly manage all that is required of him here, but in terms of facial beauty, he's indeed his father's son.

Gonzalez's movie runs from the frisky and bizarre (a prison scene featuring Béatrice Dalle that's mildly, humorously S&M) to the sweet and artful (below) in which we follow our hot hosts' tale to learn the strange story of how the hunky hero's eye patch evolved.

The movie is poetic, as well, and if the poetry we hear (and read the subtitles for) is not great, it is also not bad. Not bad at all. Intelligent and thoughtful, it's the work of a young man still struggling to better his voice, and the struggle is what gives You and the Night its unusual feeling of, well, something genuine

On the filmmaker's mind is family and what it takes to make one. Toward this goal (which is atop so many of us GLBT folk's agendae), Gonzalez uses everything in his arsenal -- poetry to passion, satire to sex, fantasy to frisson -- in order to arrive. For me, what was most surprising about the film is that, rather than appearing pretentious (which you might easily ex-pect), thanks to the sincerity on view -- in the writing, direction and perfor-mances -- we get instead something funny, strange, sweet and moving.

As of now, You and the Night has no U.S. distribution. But it is such a singular objet-d'art that I can't help but think it will obtain a release here eventually. If a trite little trinket like Mortem (which was pretentious), can find an eventual theatrical berth, then this first full-length film surely will, too. It has now played its single Newfest performance, but to see what else is in store at this GLBT festival, click here.

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