Sunday, May 19, 2024

Passengers of the Night (2023) movie review.

“Night Passengers” takes place from 1981 – with joy on the streets for the election of President François Mitterrand – to 1988. But one constant throughout the film’s many life changes is the presence of the late-night radio show that gives the film its title . . his. During the first few hours, people call in to share intimate, personal stories with veteran star Emmanuelle Béart, as formidable as ever, playing Mrs. Vanda.

She and cinematographer Sébastien Buchmann show Elisabeth’s loneliness – and how the radio show takes her at night – by framing her in silhouette, standing in front of the wide windows of her long, corner apartment, gazing out at the city lights. It’s a murky, but alluring image. So impressed is she with Wanda’s program that she shows up at the station in the middle of the night and quickly accepts a low-paying job running the switchboard. You can feel how meaningful this human connection is; similarly, she will find satisfaction years later with a day job in the library. Helping others becomes a calling and watching it subtly blossom is a real pleasure. Is she exhausted from working double odd hours? This movie can’t be bothered with such realistic troubles.

The ease with which Elisabeth finds this work suggests early on how little interest she and co-writers Maud Ameline and Mariette Désert have in exploring the conflict. Instead, they show us characters talking about books and movies, listening to records, and smoking—always smoking. It’s very French. The younger of her two children, tenth grader Matthias (Quito Rayon Richter), wants to be a poet; her older sister Judith (Megan Northam) is a political activist. Everything is cool; there is never judgment or parental intervention.

Even the film’s one potential source of tension or danger—Elisabeth’s invitation to a young vagabond to stay with the family for a while—turns out to be a delightful addition. Eighteen-year-old Talulah (Noée Abita) came to the radio station to tell her story of dropping out of school and living on the streets of Paris. Maybe it’s the mother inside her, or maybe she bonds with this sweet creature with her big, brown eyes and birdlike demeanor, but Elizabeth feels enough of an immediate connection with this stranger to take her to her spare room in the upper floor. Abita has a captivating presence, reminiscent of Angelina Jolie of the “Gia” era. But even Talulah’s warning to Matthias not to fall in love with him—”I’m not the girl for you,” she says before launching into a nasty but inevitable run-in with him—doesn’t result in the kind of melodrama most do. of movies. . would include.

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