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VENICE 2023 Orizzonti

Review: For Night Will Come


- VENICE 2023: An incisive, vampiric teen movie, Céline Rouzet’s debut feature film explores such subjects as the rejection of difference, family solidarity and the injustice of the world

Review: For Night Will Come
Mathias Legoût Hammond in For Night Will Come

"We have to look as normal as possible." All too often, social conformism leads to the ostracization of anyone deviating from the norm, and this has onerous consequences for rejected people and their families, resulting in a tendency to hide in order to avoid the gaze and judgement of others, and sometimes even harassment. Racism, xenophobia, disability, depression, etc.: these mechanics are common to many situations, and French filmmaker Céline Rouzet has decided to use them as the basis for a cloaked parable revolving around the mythical figure of the vampire in her debut fiction feature For Night Will Come [+see also:
interview: Céline Rouzet
film profile
, which was unveiled in the 80th Venice Film Festival’s Orizzonti competition. It’s a film which boasts a fine balance of genres, which is well-paced and brilliantly acted, and which can be enjoyed at face value, following in the wake of a family who have been hiding an enormous secret for 17 years: their eldest son was born a vampire.

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"In this kind of place, as long as you behave like everyone else, you’ll be alright". As they’re crossing the bridge (which appears three times in the film) leading to the small and very remote suburban town in the heart of the forest where they’re going to live, teenager Philémon (Mathias Legout Hammond) and his family (the mother Laurence is played by Élodie Bouchez, the father Georges by Jean-Charles Clichet, while Laly Mercier plays little sister Lucie) are full of optimism. Yes, they’ll have to draw their curtains, give Philémon the north-facing bedroom and keep a low profile, but Laurence has found a job as a nurse in a blood-giving centre where she hopes she’ll be able to siphon off a few downgraded blood bags, which will finally mean she doesn’t have to sacrifice her own blood to feed her son. But the latter is also a teenager who dreams of being like everyone else (and joining a local group of youngsters led by Charles - Louis Peres), fuelled by a desire to break free ("why have you put me through this?") and by the feelings he harbours for his pretty neighbour Camilla (Céleste Brunnquell). It’s a thirst which isn’t easy to contain or to satisfy…

Navigating between humour and drama, teen movies codes (the uncertainty of first love, group mentalities with their alpha males, etc.) and those of the many vampire classics (of which the present film is an interesting variation), the tale of a family’s tested solidarity and the suggestive exploration of social influence (and its artificial sides), not to mention the difficulties involved in extracting ourselves from it (or adhering to it, if you’re not that way inclined), For Night Will Come (whose screenplay was penned by the director alongside William Martin) is dynamic and highly entertaining on the surface, but it also provides cinephiles with food for thought by way of its multiple, more or less concealed references. It’s an incredibly well-packaged and well-managed ensemble which showcases the great versatility of a filmmaker who started out in documentaries (A Distant Thud in the Jungle) and whose next opus we’re already looking forward to.

For Night Will Come is produced by ElianeAntoinette and Reboot Films in co-production with Belgium’s Altitude 100 Production. World sales are entrusted to Playtime.

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(Translated from French)

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