Despite the Night

Despite the Night poster

Despite the Night (Malgré la nuit) movie poster

A sordid, obsessive romance set in the Parisian porn industry, Despite the Night (Malgré La Nuit) aspires to be a provocative French arthouse film with existential ambitions.

Directed by Philippe Grandrieux (Un Lac), an experimental artist and filmmaker, this movie uses a pretty simple premise – a young man looking for his missing call-girl/prostitute girlfriend – to take us on an increasingly dark and unpleasant exploration of humans’ most deviant instincts.

Prostitution, pornography, snuff movies, obsession, jealousy, incest, sado-masochism, murders and explicit sex scenes populate this work while a few Parisan clichés give you some brief moments of fresh air. We see our central character Lenz (Kristian Marr) take pensive poses, attend trendy parties, play guitar on a balcony overlooking the Louvre while always keeping a detached cool. As you probably already guessed it, all these elements are reminiscent of typical French New Wave characters while the sleazy story feels like a remake of the 1999 Nicholas Cage-starrer 8MM.

Before you start calling me prude, it’s not that I find Despite the Night particularly shocking but just that everything is gratuitous and self-important, Mr. Grandrieux trying to stuff everything he can – thus the 2 hours and 36 mn running time – to be offensive without having anything interesting to say or show.

The filmmaker seems to try to outdo other provocative, pompous but talented directors such as Nicolas Winding Refn  (The Neon Demon, Only God Forgives), Gaspar Noé (Irreversible, Love) or even Jan Kounen (Renegade, Dobermann), but the big difference is that despite their flaws, all these movies feature some beautiful and fascinating moments while Despite the Night is just plain unappealing – it event makes its daring actresses Ariane Labed (The Lobster) and Roxane Mesquida (Reality) look unattractive and their lengthy sex scenes feel dull.

Stereotyping French cinema to the extreme, Despite the Night deserves to stay in the darkness.

Director: Philippe Grandrieux – Actors: Kristian Marr, Ariane Labed – Running Time: 2:36 – Year: 2016 – Country: France
Click here to watch the Despite the Night trailer
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Fred Thom

Fred Thom

Editor-in-Chief/Founder/Film Critic at Plume Noire
The founder and editor-in-chief of Plume Noire, Fred Thom covers film festivals and writes movie reviews. He was born in Marseilles, France and is now living in Los Angeles, California.