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A THOUSAND TIMES GOOD NIGHT: DVD

SYNOPSIS: Rebecca (Juliette Binoche) is a top war photographer. On assignment while photographing a female suicide bomber group in Kabul, she gets too near and is badly hurt in an explosion. Back home, another bomb explode: her husband Marcus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and daughters Steph (Lauryn Canny) & Lisa (Adrianna Cramer Curtis) can no longer the thought of her dying on assignment and give her an ultimatum: her work or her family. The choice seems obvious. More or less ....

Review by Louise Keller:
The eye of truth is in focus in this hard-hitting drama in which it is not only the camera but the consequences behind the exposure that spool out their angst. In a heart-wrenching performance, Juliette Binoche haunts as a war-photographer whose camera acts as her moral compass but blinds her to her family's needs. Erik Poppe's politically relevant film is about conflict of different kinds: both in war and at home. Beyond the horrors and ugliness of war, it is the resulting deeply personal issues and their impact on relationships that become an inner sword.

One of the first images we see is that of an eye. An eye of a woman hidden in the back of a truck in Kabul: Rebecca (Binoche) wears a hijab as she readies herself to document the rituals of a suicide bomber. The eye watches, sees and shares what it sees through the lens of a camera. A woman lies in a grave while women around her chant. She is cleansed, dressed and explosives tied around her. Rebecca's camera records it all; her obsession to share the horror driving her closer to events than common sense might suggest. This all-important set up with its disturbing images, tells us much about Rebecca and her fearless, intuitive compulsion to go to extreme lengths for her pictures.

We then see the other side of Rebecca as she returns home to her family, where there is clearly deep-seated tension with her marine biologist husband Marcus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). 'I'm not good at life; being normal,' she tells Marcus and the fact that he sleeps on the couch is not a good sign, as observed by one of their two daughters.

A school project about Africa for teenage daughter Steph (Lauryn Canny) becomes the catalyst for what happens next, impacting on all members of the family and their relationships. Canny is exceptional as the sensitive teen whose admiration for her mother's work is coloured by the constant fear of losing her. 'It would be easier if you were dead,' she tells her mother in one emotional scene. Watch out for the lovely scene in the Kenyan refugee camp where mother and daughter share confidences as they sit on separate beds under mosquito nets, each cocooned by her own perspective. Anger is the driver Rebecca explains, when asked why she started taking photos of people about whom nobody cared.

As conflict erupts in Kenya, we can see how Rebecca is drawn to the action - like a moth to a flame. The consequences form a pathway to an explosion of emotional outpouring and angst - at home this time. For once the tables are turned when it comes to recording pain. The whirring of the lens of the camera in a confrontation between mother and daughter is far more effective than words could ever be.

Poppe's film is devoid of histrionics or melodrama - just truthful emotions and reactions. Binoche never plays a false note: her emotions are so transparent, we almost feel as though we are intruding. It's a wonderful performance that elevates a potent and worthwhile drama that has something to say.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
This morally, emotionally complex and confronting story cinematically told offers mature audiences an opportunity to enjoy cinema that authentically reflects the human condition. And it is authenticity that sets great work apart. A well observed and articulate screenplay - which at the same time is powerfully economical with dialogue when words are superfluous - gives Erik Poppe and his team the opportunity to translate it to the screen as images and sounds.

Pivotal to the film's success in achieving its aims is the central performance by Juliette Binoche as Rebecca the war photographer torn between passionate dedication to her craft and hoping to make a difference - and her family's need for her presence. Not to mention their concern for her safety.

The screenplay sets up this conundrum with great sensitivity and intelligence, avoiding fake sentiment and hyped up contrasts. The filmmakers don't treat us as fools and allow us to interact with the film by way of understanding.

Lauryn Canny is also a standout as the teenage daughter, Steph, as is Adrianna Cramer Curtis as her younger sibling the adorable Lisa, while Nikolaj Coster-Waldau - in the challenging role of her marine biologist husband Marcus - brings a genuine, complex character to life.

The striking thing is how Poppe manages to retain the film's tone so evenly, as we move smoothly from deadly locations in Afghanistan and Africa to the rather lovely and comfortable seaside family home in Ireland.

Cinematography and visual embellishments help to emphasise the filmmaker's screen language skills and Armand Aman's rich, varied score helps embed the film in our innermost emotional recesses. It's a powerful film with an authentic ending.

Published April 9, 2015

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CRITICAL COUNT
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Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

A THOUSAND TIMES GOOD NIGHT: DVD (M)
(Norway/Ireland/Sweden, 2013)

Tusen ganger god natt

CAST: Juliette Binoche, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lauryn Canny, Adrianna Cramer Curtis, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Chloe Annett

PRODUCER: Finn Gjerdrum, Stein B. Kvae

DIRECTOR: Erik Poppe

SCRIPT: Erik Poppe, Harald Roselow-Eeg

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Christian Rosenlund

EDITOR: Sofia Lindgren

MUSIC: Armand Amar

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Eleanor Wood

RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Regency Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 27, 2014

PRESENTATION: 16:9

SPECIAL FEATURES: .

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: .

DVD RELEASE: April 2, 2015







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