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Nuits blanches sur la jetée

(Paul Vecchiali, France, 2014)


 


In his mid 80s, Paul Vecchiali enjoyed a surge of productivity, making three low-budget features within two years.

 

Here in Nuits blanches sur la jetée (“White Nights on the Pier”) he pays tribute to two of his revered idols – Jacques Demy and Robert Bresson – by adapting the Dostoevsky story “White Nights” that has also served Luchino Visconti (Le notti bianche, 1957) and James Gray (Two Lovers, 2008) well.

 

It is a tale made for cinema, staging the four nights in which a man (Pascal Cervo) falls in love with a woman (Astrid Adverbe) who waits, hopelessly, for another man to arrive as he promised …

 

Every version of this story has at least three obligations: it must show the accelerated path to intimacy between a man and a woman across four, talk-filled evenings; it must have a liberating scene of music and dance; and it must invent its own way to show the crushing moment of narrative dénouement.

 

Vecchiali does not disappoint on any of these challenges. Working with his familiar ensemble of highly disciplined actors and technicians, he creates touching, nocturnal dialogue scenes that are rigorously sculpted in their découpage. He introduces – when we least expect it – a magical intrusion of song and dance. And he brilliantly twists the ending to match the technological landscape of our modern world.

 

Nuits blanches sur la jetée is among Vecchiali’s best works.

© Adrian Martin October 2015


Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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