You and the Night
Eric Cantona and Béatrice Dalle star in an oddly lovable orgy dramedy
Looking for the orgy? You’ll find it up Fassbinder Street, left at Almodóvar Corner, on the corner of Pierre et Gilles. Be sure to wear your eye-patch or maid’s uniform, and to bring a poignant story detailing what made you so depraved…
Set among the guests at a high-end sex party that never quite gets going, this mannered and densely allusive debut from French writer-director Yann Gonzalez frequently prompts giggles, whether with its flights of self-important poetic fancy, its 80s Athena poster aesthetics or its breathy, theatrical brand of sensuality. Yet its earnestness and strain of self-aware humour render You and the Night oddly lovable, and some of the performances – notably that of Eric Cantona, as a man whose life has been tragically blighted by his over-endowment – are to be applauded for entering fully into the spirit of the piece without becoming self-conscious or camp.
Welcomed by their wraithlike hosts, Ali and Matthias (Kate Moran and Niels Schneider), and their male housemaid Udo (Nicolas Maury), who seems to have wandered in from a nearby production of The Rocky Horror Show, the guests reveal their insecurities one by one, as the intended bacchanal gives way to a sort of impromptu support group. The resulting comic/erotic chamber piece is silly, pretentious, sometimes sweet and often surprising. Explicit it’s really not, for the most part, although that’s not to say it won’t get you going somewhat if you like your sex dressed-up and stagey, or you’ve a dormant Béatrice Dalle thing that’s waiting to be reactivated.
The drawn-out, sentimental ending feels a little unearned, inadvertently emphasising that the film hasn’t gone quite as deep emotionally as it thinks it has. But it also unmistakeably reveals the strong influence of The Breakfast Club, and it’s hard not to be a tiny bit enamoured of a film that starts out promising erotic depravity and ends up referencing John Hughes.
Limited release from Fri 3 Oct.