Director: Anne Émond
Starring: Catherine de Léan, Dimitri Storoge
Duration: 91 min.
Clara and Nikolai meet at a rave. They return to his apartment for sex. Afterwards, instead of parting ways, the two lovers divulge their deepest secrets to one another.
Nuit #1 is the feature length debut from Canadian director Anne Émond. It premiered in the Canada First section of the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. It won the Claude Jutra Award at the 32nd Genie Awards, a prize awarded to the year's best feature from a first-time director; it also won Best Canadian Feature at the 2011 Vancouver International Film Festival.
The film begins to the sounds of Elysian Fields' cover of Serge Gainsbourg's classic Les amours perdues. The sultry smoky vocals of Jennifer Charles and the languid instrumentation of Oren Bloedow provide a stark contrast to the images in front of us. A slow motion scene of flashing strobe lights and a packed sweaty dance floor full of ravers with arms in the air jumping up and down to the rhythm of an entirely different song. All except for one girl who seems to be in a world of her own, slightly off-beat from the rest. It's a striking introduction that instantly grabs the audiences attention.
The intimate film that follows doesn't quite maintain that level of magic, but it does provide ample opportunity for the leads Dimitri Storoge and Catherine de Léan (who earned a Best Actress nomination at the Genies), to show off their acting chops. After a long, awkward, largely dispassionate, and entirely unglamorous, but unusually explicit sex scene; instead of immediately going their separate ways, the two strangers Nikolai and Clara begin to talk, and over the rest of the evening they slowly open up, using one another for what amounts to be an impromptu late night therapy session.
Fortunately the performances were stirring, because the script was not always the most convincing, at times resembling a series of theatrical monologues rather than a realistic exchange of dialog between two people. Also, Nikolai's threadbare and decrepit apartment where we spend the vast majority of the film was not the most inviting place to be stuck in for so long. Still that kind of worked in the film's favor, because every rare scene that takes place outside of that apartment not only provides the audience with some visual relief, but also delivers its most powerful emotional moments, including a well executed ending.
Overall Nuit #1 offers nothing particularly groundbreaking but there were some flashes of brilliance. I'd say that Émond shows some very strong promise with this debut, and I expect we will be hearing her name in festival and award circles again very soon.
— Bonjour Tristesse