(Release Info London schedule; June 19th, 2020, Curzon Home Cinema)
"On A Magical Night"
We meet Maria Mortemart (Chiara Mastroianni), a woman who's dissatisfied with her marriage after a heated argument with her husband Pierre (Anthony Devaux). After 20 years of marriage, Maria decides to leave her husband. She moves out for the night to stay in a hotel across the street from their home and settles in room 212 from which she watches her husband and reflects upon their life together. While mulling over her decision, various people from her past appear, offering their opinions. She's visited by her late mother (Marie-Christine Adam), her dead grandmother (Claire Johnston), Richard Warrimer (Vincent Lacoste), a younger, 25-year-old version of her husband, her husband’s first love Irene Haffner (Camille Cottin) and her many lovers, to berate her for a string of infidelities. In room 212, she reflects upon her marriage, gifted with the ability to see it all at once. There, she has a bird’s eye view of her apartment, her husband, and her marriage. In this comic romp, she confronts her past lovers and relationships on one magical night, fantasizing about the lives she could’ve lived and wondering if she’s made the right decisions.
Inspired by Leo McCarey’s 'The Awful Truth', this is a playful, witty fantasy, served by stunning cinematography. From the very beginning, the story looks like a conjugal tale more than a report on couples. The film takes a familiar topic, a couple in crisis after many years of marriage, and revives it with abundant creativity and cinematic strokes of genius. 'Thus play I in one person many people, and none contented'. We believe that this 'Shakespeare' verse, that John Irving borrowed for the title of one of his novels, defines quite well the initial mystery in that story. Let’s pretend a woman, Maria, one night has the revelation that she has the gift of seeing how there are always more people around her than it seems. Her husband is also her young fiancé, and the teenager she did not know. Her rival Irene is also Irene the role model of her future life. Her lover Asdrubal Électorat (Harrison Arevelo) is all of her lovers in one person. Maria would be like a fixed star that would attract satellites around her that keep multiplying. The story follows the poisonous steps of this invasion and simultaneously builds with Maria the antidote to escape them. Let’s pretend that woman, Maria, experienced finding her voice among all the voices that block her.
The more Maria would like to think about her life, the more her life turns out to be filled with protagonists who want to speak for her. Maria crosses a street, hoping for some perspective, to see herself from the outside, to see her apartment, her husband, her marriage from above. Yet now she's not facing loneliness, but the noisy group of people who claim they've suffered from her, her freedom, her desires. Among them, Maria is like a prisoner of more or less aggressive signs that she must interpret. And we don’t have much of an explanation for it except that they're shamefully sweet and exhaustingly kind; these four characters liked one another. In our great ideas about films and how cinema happens, we forget this essential, precious and rare element; the love that the characters feel for one another. The trust, the humor, the affection, the friendship between them. This film owes everything to the health, kindness, tenderness, wildness and delicate and benevolent warmth of the characters.
As often, “On A Magical Night” proceeds from "Les Fleurs", which has not been shot, barely been written, but which is it's secret source. The story is set during 'The Occupation', then in 'The 50’s'. There's an imaginary painter, a piano, 'The Picardie' region, 'The Opéra Garnier' and two female characters who are keeping a secret that they could not access themselves. We find ourselves watching Leo McCarey’s “The Awful Truth”; Irene Dunne and Cary Grant as an infallible married couple after their divorce. It takes us to an overly solemn level. How many filmmakers have taken an interest in the subject of conjugal conversation? We're more and more distrustful of this importance, this sort of domination that some films command to cinema itself. "On A Magical Night” expresses in a sentimental and stubborn way, the attachment to fiction cinema where let’s pretend has more value than the let’s do it as it's. Here, fiction in the sense of enchantment. We've let ourselves been swept along it in a dance with forgotten steps, charmed by it's spells. And little by little, it appeared to us that it's not nothing, in this day and age, to claim the precious tools of acting, of metaphor, to favor the magic of backstage, of tricks, in a work that aims to make life happen during a film.
We should not forget that we've been twenty-five and that we loved us madly when we was that age! For years, we've gotten our bearings in life from the love stories that punctuated it. It was back in the days of 'X' or in the days of 'Y', month-long or night-long romances seemed to be the highest points of our existence. As if romantic faithfulness allowed us to multiply projects. We're aware that it's arbitrary, and maybe irrelevant to bring up these two words, truthfulness and films. We're quite tempted to claim that loving lengthily has certainly allowed us to shoot often.