“Nuit #1” – a fly-on-the-wall treatment of a one-night stand – doesn’t hold much back. It begins with the eerily glum intensity of the rave where Clara (Catherine de Léan) and Nikolai (Dimitri Storoge) meet, moves to clinical coverage of them having sex at Nikolai’s dumpy apartment, then lingers on their scathingly honest exchanges about the reality of their lives – the frustration, pain and desperation that exist just beneath the surface.
They are strangers who share a random spark of chemistry, then take turns sharing their angst in a series of monologues. He’s broke, angry and can’t hold a job; modern love makes him sick, he declares. She’s a school teacher who relieves her unhappiness through partying and nights with other strangers.
Playlike in its structure, “Nuit #1” sometimes feels too talky, the unhappy characters border on clichéd. Still, Canadian writer/director Anne Émond, 29, shows confidence as a director, eliciting raw, spontaneous and resonant performances from her actors. She takes intelligent risks and is at times thoughtfully provocative.
It seems safe to say that Émond had “La maman et la putain”/“The Mother and the Whore” (1973, Jean Eustache) on her radar as she made this film. Wonder if David Lean/Noel Coward’s “Brief Encounter” (1945), one of my favorite ill-fated romances, also made her viewing list? ; )
“Nuit #1” opens today at Landmark’s Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles.