La nuit des traquées (
, 1980) France
Written and Directed by Jean Rollin
Starring: Brigitte Lahaie, Vincent Gardère, Bernard Papineau, Dominique Journet.
A hypnotic minimalist drama lamenting an individual’s nearly total helplessness against the authorities…
Even in acclaimed Rollin horror films corpses can be often found blinking (“Les Raisins de
None blink in the excellent and underrated “
This is a masterpiece of minimalism, capable of producing an emotionally devastating effect upon the first viewing.
Forget about such commonly accepted cinema aspects as “editing”, “pacing”, “action”.
The prevailing qualities here are despair and hypnotic emptiness.
Brigitte Lahaie gives a terrific performance and her presence holds the film together during the thinner parts of the story.
Bernard Papineau as an intelligent but cynical Dr. Francis creates an image both tormented and predatory.
Now whoever plays the frenzied patient whom Lahaie and Dominique Journet encounter in the elevator should also be noted: he treats the viewer to a bona fide pantomime worthy of Franco Garofalo.
My personal favourite Rollin film.
Atypical for the director, yes.
But also a triumph.
Who else could bring viewers to a state of deep melancholy using a handful of hc actors put in the austere environment of an after-hours office block for a measly two-week shoot?
This picture cannot be labeled is “just” erotica, or horror, or social critique.
Blending of themes brought up by Rollin in “La nuit…” remains unique to this day.
Yes, it’s an unpolished and sketchy picture but it is never a common exploitation item and hits every target it’s maker has set.
Yes, the sex scene is overlong and the dance towards the end – absurd.
However, these moments do not badly mar the overall exceptional achievement.
A rare film with very warm scenes unfolding in a cold, hostile environment that represents the world today all too well to be written off as an old curio.
I shall go as far as saying : that’s how a Fassbinder picture would probably look had he turned his hand to horror in the early days of his career.
Cinematography is almost documentary-style without gratuitous traveling shots or elaborate lighting effects. It captures the doom and desolation of deserted locations wonderfully, allowing decaying train-yards and sterile, mesmerizing empty corridors take on an almost autonomous character status.
“La nuit” has retained a lot of its power because it so clearly grieves over an individual’s nearly total helplessness in the hands of the state.
Despite the surreal atmosphere and childlike innocence of the amnesiac characters the harsh tone of disillusionment and doom permeates the film. These “hunted” are in too deep…