When the Night is directed by Cristina Comencini and adapted from her own novel.
Marina (Claudia Pandolfi) takes her problematic two year-old son to the mountains for a sabbatical. Her toddler doesn’t sleep and he does not stop crying. This drives the poor woman, understandably, a bit loopy. (The incessant wailing drove me a bit loopy.) All the while, strange tensions develop between her and the standoffish landlord (Filippo Timi) as they co-habit in a remote alpine cabin.
This is not a barrel of laughs, no. It’s intense, heady stuff. While I’m told that parenthood, even in the toughest of times still supplies occasional glimmers of joy, this has none of that. It purely focuses on the downside.
The narrative is somewhat uneven. It lacks a clear story arc. The ending feels rushed, a bit tagged-on, which I find is common with book adaptations. So often there’s just too much information to squeeze in to a couple of hours. But the film does have a lot of passion. The locations are spectacular and not always in a “chocolate box” kind of way. In her LFF Q&A, Comencini explained that she wanted a mountain that was “hard-looking”, as opposed to pretty. Against this backdrop, the director has created a peculiar and disturbing atmosphere.
When the Night suggests that a natural instinct for motherhood is not always a given. This is a bold and brave statement to make and one that ought to be welcomed. Since 1950, the world’s population has exploded from 2.5 billion to 7 billion and, disturbingly, shows no signs of slowing down. Bearing these facts in mind, it’s refreshing to see a point of view that doesn’t encourage us to breed.