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La Noche Dentro

average rating is 5 out of 5


Joe Beck


Posted on:

Feb 8, 2024

Film Reviews
La Noche Dentro
Directed by:
Antonio Cuesta
Written by:
Antonio Cuesta, Adrián Pino
Clare Durant, Ignacio de la Puerta, Rafa de Vera, Ana Pariente

A film about the death of a child is naturally going to be a heavy watch. Maybe even more so when it occurs in a hospital, and when there is nobody truly to root against for such a cruel injustice and horror. In situations in which we witness or hear about the most abject of horrors, the worst imaginable - the death of a child for instance - we immediately look for culprits and somebody to blame, often instead of analysing the tragedy at hand, and the more root cause for its occurrence.


‘La Noche Dentro’, which translates from Spanish to English as ‘The Night Inside’, both seeks for a culprit for the tragedy of a child’s death on the children’s ward of a hospital as well as examining the greater more significant reasons behind the child’s death. The immediate responsibility for the death falls on Belén, a young nurse, who injected the child incorrectly with insulin rather than paracetamol.


We’re first introduced to Belén, played by Clare Durant, as she wakes up after being attacked, presumably by the child’s father. With a large red bruise covering her left eye and the camera looming above her as she lays helplessly being questioned accused of malpractice by her colleagues, Belén is immediately placed in a vulnerable position. This changes when she rises, thinking that she has credible evidence to prove that she didn’t commit wrongdoing or make any mistake, as she stands taller than her colleagues, and remains in focus, unlike their blurred faces. However, when such evidence fails to materialise, she once again casts a diminutive figure against the hostile gaze and questions of her colleagues.


All this reflects the strength of Antonio Cuesta’s directing, framing Belén in different perspectives depending on her own self-belief and control of the situation. This is further reflected by the fact that the camera is either handheld, or gives the impression of being handheld, as it moves around chaotically tailing Belén as her mind rushes with doubt, confusion and panic, particularly when confronted with the parents of the dead child. In later scenes Cuesta’s camera sways as though it were the ghost of the dead child, wishing for a peaceful resolution, particularly in a key interaction between the mother of the child and Belén.


Hospitals are places of death, though a children’s ward never should be, and the script, penned by Antonio Cuesta and Adrián Pino, conveys that message perfectly. Whilst Cuesta and Pino’s script searches for an individual culpable for the tragedy, rightfully it never finds one responsible, instead succinctly underlining the toll that abject working conditions, overstretched resources and working far too long shifts - 29 hours - has on Belén and all the nurses. ‘La Noche Dentro’ is critical not of an individual, but of an institution that has, in countries across the world, been mismanaged and underfunded, resulting in tragedies such as the one depicted in the film.


‘La Noche Dentro’ is an important piece of filmmaking to understand the scale of crisis that health services around the world are facing, with the underlying tragedy of the film only heightening it’s scale. Aided by a marvellously nuanced performance by Clare Durant, and Antonio Cuesta’s impressive directing, ‘La Noche Dentro’ takes you on a journey throughout, as layer after layer of this unfolding tragedy is revealed, evoking shock, horror and ultimately sadness throughout.

About the Film Critic
Joe Beck
Joe Beck
Short Film
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