|Le Vent de la nuit|
An exquisitely photographed look at three individuals whose lives briefly intersect, Night Wind is a melancholy and consistently captivating treatment of human loneliness. Leisurely, beautifully framed sequences and spare, essential dialogue convey a pleasantly voyeuristic tension that will delight fans of serious art films, though viewers unaccustomed to well-portrayed existential angst may wonder why Catherine Deneuve's character doesn't just get herself some Prozac.
Helene (Deneuve), a well-preserved bourgeois housewife, is more dependent on her young lover, Paul (Xavier Beauvois), than she'd like to be. Although it was he who initially approached her, she's skittish and unsure whether he's attracted to her lived-in beauty and fragile personality or simply to her ample bank account. Helene wants and needs Paul's uncomplicated virility, but despises her own neediness.
Paul, a fine-arts student in Paris, is invited to Naples for the unveiling of a sculpture, and there meets noted French architected Serge (Daniel Duval). On the ride back to Paris in Serge's red Porshe, the two men chat along the widescreen road. In the course of this drive and a later trip to and from Berlin, we learn that Serge was a "revolutionarry" during the general strike of May'68, that he ended up in an asylum where he underwent electroshock therapy and that, at some point, his wife committed suicide. As for Paul, we know he dabbles in heroin, finds Helene stifling at times and is bucking for a job as Serge's assistant.
Thesps are sober and affecting. Deneuve is particularly touching when Helene's decision to introduce her lover to her husband takes a bizarre turn. Duval's mix of steely determination and wounded core is deceptively smooth, and Beauvois is fine as the roving representative of youth and its inherent blind spots and possibilities.
Helmer Philippe Garrel, whose past work has includes its shares of pretentious, irritating navel-gazing, here marries form and emotion in a package as haunting as it is lovely. Piano-and-guitar-based score by John Cale is melodically pleasing but too dramatically emphatic in places.