Director: Peter Solan
Starring: Stano Danciak, Jana Gýrová, Jitka Zelenohorská, Marián Labuda, Július Pántik
Language: Slovak, German
Duration: 86 min.
A psychological study that takes place in an upscale Slovak nightclub, following the social interactions of various patrons and employees throughout the course of one winter evening...
Before Tonight is Over also known as Before This Night is Over is a film directed by Czechoslovak New Wave filmmaker Peter Solan (The Boxer and Death), co-written by Tibor Vichta. It premiered at the 1966 Locarno Film Festival, where it received an Honorable Mention.
Set in a trendy hotel nightclub in a mountain resort town in Slovakia, this brilliantly written and executed film follows an assortment of interesting characters as they drink, dance, flirt, and mingle over the course of one winter's night.
There's the two young plumbers, Kvetinka (Stano Danciak) a natural ladies man, and Milos (Marián Labuda) his awkward friend, out on the prowl. Conveniently present are Olga (Jana Gýrová) and Mira (Jitka Zelenohorská), two young and pretty office secretaries on a vacation they've saved up all year for. There's Baláz (Július Pántik), an enigmatic and unusually generous individual perched at the end of the bar, and Miss Betka (Valentina Thielová) the bartender who witnesses it all. Then there is the in-house entertainment, a group of sexy scantily clad dancers, and a six-piece swing band who provide the film's energetic live soundtrack.
Unconventionally, Solan utilized a cast consisting of mainly non-professionals, a mostly improvised script, and several roaming cameras to keep the actors and extras from knowing when or if they were actually being filmed. This experimental way of filmmaking gives it a wonderful free flowing and candid feel, a genuine naturalness that I have come to adore and recognize as one of the hallmarks of the Czechoslovak New Wave.
There is no real story here, but rather an intricate web of human social interactions where each line of banter, gesture, and expression is as fascinating as any traditional plot revelation. Watching this film, you feel as if you are there sitting up at the bar, on a table, or out on the dance floor, observing each and every moment as if they were happening live. Eliciting a wide range of emotions over the course of its brief running time, from excitement, joy, and adventure, to embarrassment, sadness, and tragedy.
Most remarkable is how completely relevant everything remains over forty-five years later. A tiny capsule, uniquely preserved from a very brief time in history, yet it still rings perfectly true as if it was shot yesterday. Before Tonight is Over, is a masterful examination of human psychology, a beautifully innovative cinematic experience, and a true hidden gem of a film that deserves greater attention.
— Bonjour Tristesse