Credit: NEON/Cannes Film Festival
by InRO Staff Featured Festival Coverage Film

Cannes Film Festival 2024: Dispatch 3 — Anora, Blue Sun Palace, September Says

May 27, 2024


Following Red Rocket in 2021, Anora marks Sean Baker’s second straight feature in competition at Cannes, and this one comes with reports of packed screenings with overflow press watching seated on aisle stairs — anything to catch a glimpse of the buzzy title. Its programming slot in the latter half of the festival delivered a jolt of energy to sleep-deprived fest-goers who responded positively to its joyous montages and slapstick hijinks, a feeling shared by the jury, which also handed the film the coveted Palme d’Or.

Sporting a suitably Baker-esque logline, Anora follows stripper and occasional sex worker Ani (Mikey Madison) as she endures the inevitable backlash that comes with falling in love with and marrying the uber-wealthy son of a Russian oligarch. Told in three distinct parts, the first hour plays out like a fairytale rom-com in which Ani begins performing off-the-books sex visits to Ivan (Mark Eydelshteyn), a young Russian who seems to have nothing but free time and copious amounts of cash to blow. He plays video games, smokes weed, and takes surprise trips to Vegas on his family’s private jet. When he tells Ani, “I’m always happy,” in broken English, you believe him because why wouldn’t he be? Eydelshteyn’s physical performance reflects this levity and is built for laughs: he does a little backward cartwheel when undressing for sex; he slides in his socks when answering his doorbell. It’s easy to see why Ani would fall for his charm. The only thing that can get Ivan down is that his family back in Russia expects him to return there soon to begin work at his father’s company. He’s the worst kind of nepo baby: an ungrateful one.

Between Rich Kids of the Internet, Lauren Greenfield’s photography work, and Gossip Girl, peering into the lives of the young and rich has always held immense audience appeal, and understanding this, the first hour of Anora actively trades in wealth porn. It does so intentionally, knowing that once the audience is subsumed into the glitz and glamor, it will be a small leap to understand how Ani is too. (After the scuzzy 16mm of Red Rocket, cinematographer Drew Daniels returns to lens Anora with the clarity of 35mm, continuing a mini-trend where Baker’s films alternate from the lo-fi to a cleaner image.) When the rug is pulled out from under her rather abruptly, we receive it with understanding in place of judgment. At the strip club Headquarters, when Ani’s workplace enemy Diamond (Lindsey Normington) tells her she gives her and Ivan’s new marriage two weeks, we know she’s likely not wrong — and somewhere deep down, Ani might as well — but neither we nor she wants that to be the case. It’s the noble move to root for young love, no matter how tenuous or outright irresponsible a given union is.

What happens after Ivan and Ani’s ill-advised Vegas wedding plays out almost like a thought exercise: What would actually happen next in the age-old rom-com story involving a wealthy person and someone from a lower economic tier getting married? Well, in all likelihood, the parents and anyone else invested in their lives would do just about anything to stop it. That level of wealth can’t be jeopardized, under any circumstance. So, the glitzy montage-heavy first act gets traded for some old-school slapstick goodness. This pivot is a testament to Baker’s directing and editing prowess at this stage in his career, demonstrating that he is able to stage and cut this tricky style of comedy together so well. Three goons enter the picture: Toros (Baker regular Karren Karagulian), Garnick (Vache Tovmasyan), and Igor (Yura Borisov), who are all tasked by Ivan’s parents with finding out if the marriage rumors are true, and to promptly get the whole thing annulled if so. Ivan treats these three with casual annoyance and outright disrespect, but seems actually terrified at the prospect of his no-nonsense parents coming to town. So he does what any immature manchild does when trouble finds them: he splits, literally running out of his gated home, leaving new bride Ani alone with the three stooges for the rest of the film’s runtime.

This extended middle section, in which the hapless quartet attempts to track down Ivan, has already been compared to Safdie brothers’ films Good Time or Uncut Gems, and there is some of that energy here where a simple point A to point B is spoiled with constant detours. But Anora leans more toward the outright silly than those darker features. It’s also fitting that they visit Coney Island restaurant Tatiana, as that Russian nightclub featured prominently in Jonathan Ames’ HBO series Bored to Death, and both Anora and that series carry a humanist point of view that states there are no real bad guys, reveling in casual banter between seemingly opposing parties, whether it’s kidnapper and the kidnapped, or something similar.

Eydelshteyn’s performance as Ivan is already lauded, and for good reason, but Borisov as Igor delivers the more subdued, impressive performance. He plays a quiet young Russian who wants Ani to notice him, but is either too shy or proud to go very far to make that happen, though his sly sense of humor notably peaks through (the impression isn’t unlike that of Serbian NBA MVP Nikola Jokić in that way). Without spoiling the finale, suffice it to say it’s telling who recedes to the background and who moves to the fore in the film’s final moments.

At 138 minutes, Anora is Baker’s longest film, and the easy criticism to lodge here is that you can feel that. But like fellow Cannes title Eephus, which needs you to feel the length of a full baseball game, Anora asks that viewers sit in the emotional weight of this long day that Ani and others are put through when a bratty kid decides to run from the problems he himself has created. It’s a choice that makes the unexpectedly subdued final sequence and the sure-to-be-divisive closing shot all the more necessary and emotionally resonant. CALEB HAMMOND

Credit: Big Buddha Pictures/Field Trip Media

Blue Sun Palace

Long heralded as the harbinger of snore-inducing boredom, slow cinema, in actuality, is a somewhat paradoxical replica of what film scholar Tom Gunning calls the “cinema of attractions.” Gunning coined this term to celebrate the non-narrative pleasures of cinema pre-1906 that audiences from all parts of the world enjoyed; he lauded the trick films of Georges Méliès and the actualities of the Lumière Brothers as a form of “exhibitionist cinema [that] directly solicits spectator attention [by] inciting visual curiosity and supplying pleasure through an exciting spectacle – a unique event, whether fictional or documentary, that is of interest in itself.” Slow cinema is, of course, not that. If anything, it’s the exact opposite: a cinema of subtractions that nullifies (movie) pleasure, blanking the uniqueness of a given event, whether fictional or documentary, that is of interest in itself. But because it pushes so hard into this stasis, silence, and stillness, its distinct formalism becomes the spectacle. In other words, films featuring long and static takes with little to no non-diegetic background score solicit spectator attention by calling attention to themselves; the attractions of cinema become not narrative or character psychology, but the minuscule modulations the filmmaker makes to shot compositions, editing rhythm, and (the addition of) music.

It seems fairly certain that director Constance Tsang doesn’t want film form to be one’s primary takeaway after watching her feature-length debut film. Pieced together from Tsang and her family’s experience in the Chinese community of Queens, NY, Blue Sun Palace is, as the director’s statement notes, a “letter to the ghosts of my childhood, my parents who came to America with one dream and settled for another, to my father who I now understand, and to myself as I come to terms with redefining loss in my life.” The narrative rupture that happens 32 minutes into the 117-minute film neatly divides it into a “before” and “after,” each of which focuses, to varying degrees, on highlighting migrant worker solidarity, the debilitating effects of loss, and potential ways to deal with it. The “before,” which takes place almost entirely inside a small restaurant and a massage parlor, begins as a chronicle of a blossoming romance between Didi (Haipeng Xu) and Cheung (Tsai-Ming liang’s muse Lee Kang Sheng, who gets to speak for once!) before gently settling into becoming a documentation of Didi’s daily work routine at the parlor she runs with Amy (Ke-Xi Wu) and two other migrant workers-cum-friends-cum-roommates. Then, a sudden, jolting tragedy occurs. “After” that, the film becomes a study of shared grief that, at first, heals but then harms.

Like the characters in the film, however, we too want to remain stuck in the “before.” The opening 30-odd minutes of Blue Sun Palace unfold beautifully: Tsang, seemingly unburdened by the need to adhere to a strict narrative, uses her long takes — sometimes floating, other times static — to situate us in a specific place that her characters occupy. Yes, the form remains visible. The nearly four-minute-long opening sequence has cinematographer Norm Li’s camera swinging back and forth between Didi and Cheung to capture the flow of their playfully romantic conversation. Frame-within-a-frame shot compositions dominate after that, making the parlor appear at once claustrophobic and intimate. But none of these attractions of cinema become distractions. If anything, the narrative’s looseness allows each of the moments Didi shares with Cheung and her roommates to, almost individually, function as an attraction. The romance, for instance, is enthralling not just because it’s shot as a long take but, more importantly, because of Sheng and Xu’s genuinely heartfelt chemistry.

This extends to Xu’s performance, in general. Tsang reveals different sides to Didi’s character every time she interacts with different people, running the risk of making her come across as incredibly unlikable and erratic. Yet Xu plays each variation of this character nonchalantly. Her relaxed, if somewhat exhausted demeanor, in and of itself, tells Didi’s backstory without having the film announce it to us out loud. Like most migrant workers, she has had to slog long and hard, but at this point in her life, she seems at peace with the compromised lifestyle she has to live to survive in New York. She casually commits indiscretions (offering sexual favors to male clients for high tips even though the parlor has a strict “no sexual services” policy), almost viewing it as a necessary contract one must honor to sustain a business and live trouble-free in America.

However, Blue Sun Palace makes a different sort of compromise after tragedy strikes. (That scene brilliantly recalls the phone-booth moment in Taxi-Driver, where the camera pans away from the central action, almost acknowledging what’s on screen is too painful to capture). The narrative shifts into Jeanne Dielman-style deconstruction of space, not to explore or expose regimented routine, but to navigate grief. Sequences and shot compositions established before repeat and rhyme in thuddingly obvious ways: for instance, the new parlor’s dim neon lighting and leaky roof sharply contrast with the old one’s overall radiance; the opening sequence replays, but with a different character and outcome. This spot-the-difference approach would be a worthy exercise in narrative gamesmanship, like Dielman or even Hong Sang-Soo’s Right Now, Wrong Then, had Tsang’s film remained mysterious and elusive. But it also blurts out its grieving characters’ sense of dislocation (one character states, “I wouldn’t know who I would want to be [in Taiwan]?” to which the other replies, “But do you know who you are here?”).

What remains fascinating is Tsang’s consistently impressive deployment of the slow cinema aesthetic. There are times when her static wide shots, separating her characters through block-like white walls or dwarfing their presence within the expanse of a run-down mall, recall Tsai Ming-liang’s work that’s similarly evocative of the loneliness that people feel not only around each other, but also in urban spaces meant for public recreation. At other times, the physical distance between the camera and the people on screen can almost mimic the viewers’ emotional distance from the characters. Regardless, all the essential questions raised throughout revolve around the film’s form: the attractions of cinema here well and truly usurped any (emotional) attachment to cinema. DHRUV GOYAL

September Says

Not that every filmmaker is expected to prove their unique vision upon signing their directorial debut, but French-Greek actress and dancer Ariane Labed, unfortunately, had to deal with two preconceived associations that tend to limit her Un Certain Regard contender September Says to easy categorizations: one, having major breakout performances in what today is known as the Greek Weird Wave films; and two, being married to Yorgos Lanthimos, who, despite being overtly discontent with the qualification, is considered its main representative. Adapted from Daisy Johnson’s 2020 novel Sisters, September Says manages to distill the intuitions and sensibilities from films like Dogtooth or Attenberg that are relevant to the story’s otherworldly atmosphere and transpose them to the genre of psychological gothic. There are gestures, mannerisms, or postures that echo certain mise-en-scènes from Greek Weird Wave films, but unlike characters who lack a moral compass and are subjected to social and existential alienation, Labed builds her protagonists’ psychés on teenage angst and trauma responses.

September Says begins by introducing two teenage siblings, September (Pascale Kann) and July (Mia Tharia), who have to deal with covertly racist bullying — the girls are of Indian descent, and July, especially, has a darker skin tone. We learn that their father passed away a long time ago, and they were raised by their single mother, Sheela, who works as a fashion designer. The opening sequence finds Sheela dressing little September and July as the Grady sisters from The Shining, before the film then jumps to the present, with the two dressed again in matching nightgown-like dresses — this time a bit reminiscent of the infamous dance scene in Dogtooth.

In their sibling dynamics, though born merely 10 months apart, September proudly assumes the role of the older sister, fiercely protecting her “silly July-bug” against any aggressors. She exudes a feral energy, with throaty snarls and piercing eyes that signal danger to anyone who might threaten them. July, on the other hand, is the quiet one, overshadowed by September’s larger-than-life persona, her hunched posture suggesting a lack of individuality and agency. When September asks, seemingly already knowing the answer, “If one of us had to die and we could choose which one, would you die in my place?”, July quietly responds: “Yes, of course, it would be me.”

Theirs is a dysfunctional but also strong sibling relationship, built on a power play — play in the literal sense, as their respective domineering and submissive behaviors are perceived as a game; this can be seen in moments when July “loses a life” if she doesn’t comply with September’s directives. However, to September’s dissatisfaction, July has a penchant for social connection; like many teenagers her age, she wants to be seen and liked. When one of the boys in their class seems to take a liking to her, July’s burgeoning hormones take control, leading to a publicly humiliating moment that prompts September to take matters into her own hands.

Following the novel’s structure, Labed leaves the pivotal event that occurred at school off-screen and cuts directly to its aftermath. Sheela and her daughters leave Oxford for their grandparents’ country house in Ireland, and although we don’t learn the specifics of what happened at school, a palpable tension and grief hang heavy in the air. Sheela, already portrayed as oblivious to her daughters’ inner worlds and interactions, isolates herself, claiming she needs some time alone. Bettina Böhler’s editing, known primarily for her work with Christian Petzold, alternates between Sheela and the girls, beautifully capturing the emotional distance that separates them, despite sharing the same physical space. Unlike in a book narrated through a first-person POV, cinema struggles to capture the gaze of an “unreliable narrator.” In the film’s second half, Labed addresses this challenge by employing subtle visual and narrative devices that gradually transform the objective-looking world into July’s shattered, haunted, trauma-laden subjective reality. However, when contrasted with the well-paced, uncanny buildup, the final act’s climactic denouement feels unfortunately rushed, serving more as an unnecessary logical explanation for the audience than as an emotional restoration moment for the characters

On an aesthetic level, September Says has an out-of-time quality, yet it also has a vein of the vintage thanks to its analog texture, similar to the eerie and cozy feeling that characterized the visual realm of Céline Sciamma’s Petite Maman. Cinematographer Balthazar Land, who Labed also worked on Olla, conveys a warm, familiar atmosphere in his images, one that reminds us, despite all the bleak and odd machinations that the two girls indulge in, love and instinctive connection are what really bind them to one another. Kann and Tharia give terrific and well-grounded performances as September and July, their unique physicality and speech habits elevating the characters into three-dimensional individuals — a rare asset that most oddball supernatural genre films, which September Says will probably be counted among. Such films too often value concept over emotion and sterile provocation over sincerity, a mistake Labed savvily avoids to her film’s considerable benefit..  ÖYKÜ SOFUOĞLU

Credit: Cannes Film Festival

Jim’s Story

The fraternal duo of Arnaud and Jean-Marie Larrieu have been making films together for around 25 years. An early featurette of theirs, Roland’s Pass (2000), screened in the New York Film Festival’s Main Slate, and they’ve even had one film, 2005’s To Paint or Make Love, selected for competition at Cannes. Nevertheless, the Larrieus have not achieved the exalted heights of other auteurs of their generation, and this is despite ongoing working relationships with some of France’s most accomplished actors, including Mathieu Amalric, Karin Viard, and Sergi López.

In truth, I have not seen the Larrieus’ previous films. But based on their latest effort, Jim’s Story, I obviously should have been paying close attention all along. Bowing in that strange, slushy Cannes Premieres section, Jim’s Story is a startlingly direct emotional tale that follows the life of Aymeric (Karim Leklou), a gentle, patient man whose essential goodness opens him up to unexpected joy and sorrow in nearly equal measure. With his deep-set eyes and doughy visage, Leklou resembles a cross between Jason Segel and the bug-eyed police detective from Bruno Dumont’s L’humanité, and much like that character, Aymeric moves through life with a palpable wonder and confusion, as well as an openheartedness that is sometimes his undoing.

We meet Aymeric shortly before a group of his high school friends convinces him to tag along while they break into a house and steal a painting. He is the only one who gets pinched, and he ends up going to prison. After that, he never really gets his life back on track, working a series of temporary jobs and kicking around the countryside near Lyon. One night he runs into Florence (Laetitia Dosch), a woman he knew from before he went to jail. She is six months pregnant, by a married man who has no intention of breaking up his family. But Aymeric does not care. He and Florence become a couple, and he is present as she gives birth. They name the baby Jim, and Aymeric raises him as his own.

Years later, Jim’s biological father, Christophe (Bertrand Belin), comes back into the picture and wants a relationship with Jim. The trio attempts a co-parenting arrangement, but little by little, Florence edges Aymeric out of Jim’s life, despite the fact that he is an ideal, loving father, the only one Jim has ever known. Florence, Christophe, and Jim all move to Montreal, and Aymeric never sees his son again. To make matters worse, he discovers that Florence has lied to Jim, telling him it was Aymeric’s decision to abandon him so he could start a new family.

Adapted from a book by Pierric Bailly, Jim’s Story is quite surprising in that it manages to avoid mawkishness at every turn. Aymeric is no saint, but he is indeed a decent person who, unlike most of those around him, puts other people’s needs first, especially when it comes to Jim. The Larrieus, with an unobtrusive but lyrical directorial style, carefully depict the infelicitous consequences of meeting the world with fundamental decency. Jim’s Story offers no easy solutions, but does hold out a glimmer of hope that, in the end, selfless love will gain its due reward.   MICHAEL SICINSKI

East of Noon

Once upon a time, there were frightened people. They were so frightened that their imagination escaped,” says a soothing, soft, and elderly feminine voice. The words belong to Jalala, the storyteller (or should we say seller?) of the barren and hostile enclave in which Hala Elkoussy sets her sophomore feature, East of Noon. Amidst poverty, corruption, and abuse of power, only the mind is allowed to wander in this land through stories that have been told — a luring sensation of freedom indeed, which actually serves as a means to keep and control everyone in their place. Premiered at this year’s Director’s Fortnight, Egyptian visual artist and filmmaker Hala Elkoussy’s allegorical tale, rich in local folkloric elements, questions the paradoxical roles that storytelling plays as an agent of social and political authority and control, as well as of artistic expression.

Our protagonist is a young man named Abdo, who spends his time doing dirty jobs for the town’s despotic showman boss, “Master Shawky.” When free, he dreams of leaving everything behind to become an internationally acclaimed musician. Abdo is clearly way too clever and witty for his own good, but luckily for him, he is also Jalala’s grandson, which grants him some protection from Shawky. Meanwhile, Abdo also has romantic feelings for Nunna, a charming young woman who sleeps with Chief Borai, one of Shawky’s goons, and other men in exchange for money, and has to deal with an unexpected pregnancy.

East of Noon relies less on a tight plot and more on an overbearing sentiment of oppression and revolt that escalates a tad hastily into a climactic resolution in the final act. Yet overall, it feels as if the inhabitants of the enclave are imprisoned in a timeless, lethargic present — visually underlined by the repetitive appearance of clocks. To a community that is living in “once upon a time,” dispossessed of past and future, fables, stories, and spectacles provide the only source of meaning for their existence, which is nothing but a simulacrum of the real world. Losing yourself to the white sheets blowing on the stage is indeed safer than risking one’s life on the wild waves of the sea — and that’s what Jalala hopes for her grandson. But the Real inevitably ensues, as in the shocking moment when one of Shawky’s performers shoots another to death, shaking the audience out of their self-induced torpor.

As a work that also stems from and depends on similar apparatuses, East of Noon doesn’t shy away from bashing the inner workings of the entertainment industry and its storytelling as means of control. Jalala’s portrayal, in particular, offers an interesting deviation from the wise elder we’re accustomed to in traditional tales. “I’m no angel. There are no angels in hell,” we hear her say, thus acknowledging the compromising role she plays in maintaining the status quo and the persistence of oppression and violence. To what extent Elkoussy sees herself in Jalala is debatable, yet it’s clear that she draws similarities regarding her work as an artist and filmmaker who has to play the game according to the rules of funding mechanisms and the priorities of the art industry in order to secure her position. Yet there’s something unsettling in the way Jalala is portrayed as lacking agency, having no other choice than to bow down to the system, so to speak. Even more so is Nunna’s situation, whose involvement in sex work — whether forced or by her own will — is never addressed. The fact that Jalala sees Nunna as her successor in the storytelling “business” is also significant, revealing how women are the ones who are assigned — or even forced to — a certain fate.

Hellish indeed, but calling Elkoussy’s vision in East of Noon dystopian would be too reductive and oversimplifying, for she never loses sight of the humor and surreal absurdity within her makeshift set pieces. From sugar cubes being sought after as an addictive substance in the community to Abdo’s lo-fi studio, where he creates percussion sounds by hitting flip-flops on tubes, East of Noon is full of quirky trinkets that emanate magical realism. Shot on 16mm film with soft-toned black and white, the film sports a satiny, creamy texture that enhances the oneiric state in which the inhabitants of Sharq 12 are bound to live. Only in three instances does the image leave its monochrome tones behind, to be tinted with equally soft, dimmed colors, where the sea, whose tales the townsfolk have heard countless times, materializes before our very eyes. We get a glimpse of a beauty so brief and furtive that we join Sharq 12’s inhabitants in their longing, desperately hoping to be swept away by the soothing vision of waves.. ÖYKÜ SOFUOĞLU

Credit: Quinzaine des Cinéastes

Eat the Night

Caroline Poggi & Jonathan Vinel are a contemporary duo whose work rebukes and inquires into the reactionary, philosophical response to an accelerated technological development, rendering posthumanist sympathies that in themselves are reflexive and articulate of technocratic fears. They are artists who seek to instigate the nu-materiality of digital unreality, the manners in which our character dramas are slowly transposing themselves onto an awoken artifice: no longer are the borders of this media finite, no longer can they totally uphold the insular logics they were designed with. The classical narrativity of cinema has now entered into the playing field; an almost conservative bend on these transgressive itineraries for humanist inspection.

Eat the Night is the second feature film from the directorial duo, and it can be interpreted as forwardly regressive in the context their art has evolved within, their experimentation with the traditional machinations of narrative and composition/montage being more or less shouldered to imagine the erasure of a line that creates a distinction between the flesh and the pixel. In this latest, conventional formal tools are employed, which can belie the vigor of their work, yet it’s also offset with a dedication to earnestness, where the uncanny and the sentimental find a junction in the imaging of the actors’ faces into the focal video game, designed specially for the film. It’s a work that walks atop problematized territory, seeking to upset the passive role that race as a social configuration in proximity to whiteness often takes in the process of negotiating DEI identity politics, with a concluding trio of medium close-ups confounding the positions of our primary characters and providing key insight into the utilization of form as a method of thematic pronouncement.

Eat the Night is about the love between three people: Pablo (Théo Cholbi), Apolline (Lila Guneau), and Night (Erwan Kepoa Falé). Pablo and Apolline are siblings, their relationship affirmed through their proxy companionship within Darknoon, an open-world RPG. Night is a stranger who Pablo falls for and invites into his life and profession: dealing with and outmaneuvering a rival gang. The trajectory of their fates once Darknoon announces the shutdown of its servers is telegraphed, but the organization of these downfalls — be it emotional, bodily, or social — offers the field upon which the filmmakers play out their own Shakespearean tragedy. The largest issue in Eat the Night is the broadness engineered to conceive of a philosophy which merges planes, specifically pointed when Pablo and Night are utilized as expositional vessels for their experiences in moments when their bodies cannot wield that expression. Apolline, then, is provided the only sincere fluidity, herself being the youngest of the trio and the most enveloped in the game, and her perspective is integral to recognizing how identity exists between these material and ephemeral spheres. Pablo, in jest, suggests at one point that he’d hook up with his own Darknoon avatar, sending his sister into a kind of reticence, where suddenly the image of her brother — which he made for himself — becomes crudely external, divorced from the love they’ve shared through the game. In response, she unpacks the hidden costume of her avatar, donning it, returning to herself, seeking a familiarity she had been so suddenly shunted from. It’s a scene that speaks toward the erasure of the self, a romantic estrangement that Poggi and Vinel seek out, which has been key to their thematic articulations in the past.

But to return to the concluding match cuts — Pablo, Apolline, and Night all static in their respective, forlorn conditions — we begin to unpack an uncomfortable inarticulateness regarding race that the film lingers through. Night is incontrovertibly locked into a circumstance, come the end, which entirely negates his capacity to exist in either world, in opposition to the meditative insecurity of Pablo and Apolline. Night, a Black man, becomes the only one who gives himself over, from a place that was never delineated, and loses everything because of it. That the final of the three aforementioned shots is of him perhaps suggests a reflexivity to the tragedy here, his kindness being a major focus throughout the film, leading to a cruel finality. But the brisk coda which follows suggests a dual rejoinder: the frontier has been shattered, the separation between worlds gone, death’s reek permeating. These three people have certainly lost themselves, but it’s affirmed that only Night will never be the same. The title then returns to us, Eat the Night, as perhaps a gesture to the troubled acts of love represented here being reflective of racist ignorance/violence that the siblings partake in, leaving room for scrutiny and criticality in confronting their emotional turmoil and the parasite it might be. Night, after all, also finds grace in Darknoon, though that grace is likewise founded upon a lie, a lie the film seems to invite us to consider and reconsider: to recognize what humanity might mean — its prejudices and subconsciousness — as it seeks new emotional form outside of the body and its prescribed codes.ZACHARY GOLDKIND