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Black Night (2005)

DVD Cover (Cult Epics)
Genres:
Avant-Garde, Science Fiction, Surrealist Film
Director:
Olivier Smolders Olivier Smolders
Starring:
Fabrice Rodriguez Fabrice Rodriguez
Yves-Marie Gnahoua Yves-Marie Gnahoua
Philippe Corbisier Philippe Corbisier
Iris De Busschere Iris De Busschere
Raffa Chillah Raffa Chillah

6.7 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: October 31, 2007
How do you describe a film that has an actual, honest-to-goodness storyline, but at the same time, is intended to be viewed not unlike a dream one might have after ingesting way too many illegal substances? Such is the case with Black Night, a film which... well, the director himself said it best when he said that it's like a shattered mirror: there are the big shards which are easy to see (ie, understand), but there are also lots of tiny slivers of glass which aren't quite so "visible" to the naked eye. Honestly, I couldn't have said it better myself.

Black Night is an aptly-titled film, as it takes place in a world where the sun only showers the planet with daylight for about fifteen seconds per day - other than that, it's perpetual darkness on the entire planet. The storyline itself centers around Oscar (Fabrice Rodriguez), an entomologist who spends his days meticulously cataloging various species of insects and also makes a point of visiting his psychologist once per week. You see, he has some issues stemming from a childhood incident with a sister that he may or may not have simply conjured up in his mind, and this psychologist is able to peer into his brain courtesy of some sort of machine in an attempt to help him sort out his issues. As is this wasn't bizarre enough, he returns home one day to find a naked African woman asleep in his bed, and he soon discovers that she has some sort of incurable disease and has come to his house to die in peace. Who is she? Why did she choose his house? What the hell do all of those bizarre dreams mean? Watch it and find out.

Yes, Black Night is the very definition of "arthouse flick," but it's surprisingly accessible nonetheless. This is not the type of film that simply shows us random images of chairs and plants and forces us to come up with some profound meaning behind it all; no, there's an actual storyline here, and a damned interesting one at that. Then, with that out of the way, there's also the aforementioned "slivers" of plot which may or may not tie into the actual storyline: they could merely be dreams, they could be hallucinations, or they could simply be the byproducts of this bizarre world. It's up to the viewer to decide how they relate to the main plot, and I must say that this works out much better than one would expect, and even though I'm not a big fan of arthouse fare, I have to admit that I loved this one.

I also enjoyed the look of the film, as even though this was Olivier Smolders' debut feature length film, the man is incredibly talented when it comes to creating his own bizarre little world and drawing the viewer into it. Yes, the man may have had time to hone his craft in the world of short films (expect reviews of them shortly), but to produce something like this normally requires decades of experience. The camera angles that are used, the lighting (or lack of it in some cases), and the odd little props that seem commonplace to the characters but are unheard of by the home audience makes this a film that can easily be watched for the visuals alone. Hell, the man even makes the insects interesting to watch, and when we get to the ending, well... I won't spoil it, but there are definitely some visuals in there that will stick with you for quite some time.

Black Night comes with my highest recommendations, and this is one of those rare films that can singlehandedly get me interested in an entire genre of films. I normally scoff at arthouse fare, but a film like this makes me want to track down a handful of the better releases and make a night of it. I also believe that many viewers would share that sentiment, as even though this isn't the type of film that you'd find at your local Wal*Mart on the "hot new releases" shelf, it's definitely much more accessible and comprehensible than a large portion of films that find themselves branded with that arthouse label. Pick it up, ponder it, enjoy it, and thank me later. 9/10.
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