After the Photo Call, the Press Conference, the Opening Gala,  and the Premiere, what happens next? The reviews!

First, a refresher:

Synopsis of Nobody Wants the Night, from Elle Driver

INSPIRED BY TRUE EVENTS

Greenland, 1909. Josephine Peary is a mature, proud, determined and naive woman, in love with celebrated Arctic adventurer Robert Peary, a man who prefers glory and ice to the comforts of an upper-class home. For him she will face all danger, even risk her own life. Another woman, young but wise, brave and humble – Allaka – is in love with the same man, and expecting his child. The relentless icy landscape both separates and draws these two women together during the long, tense wait for the man they both love in such different ways. «Nobody Wants the Night» is a story replete with the passion, dignity and strength of these two women as they battle to survive in one of the most inhospitable places on earth.”

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Next, an observation:

Gabriel Byrne’s role in this film is a supporting role. He plays an experienced explorer/tracker named Bram Trevor. He appears only in the first half of the film. And he is barely mentioned in any of the reviews, unfortunately.

However, he chose to make this film and so we wonder: Why? What attracted him to this story, this director, this cast? Why would he tramp about in the snow (again!) and endure the hardships (lousy coffee, freezing temps, frozen cameras) he and everyone else had to face? What is the motivation?

Included here are the earliest reviews of Nobody Wants the Night and, I think, if you read the excerpts I have provided (and the entire review I have linked to, of course), you will get a sense of what drew him to this project. You will read over-the-top criticism and also good analysis. Some reviews are luke-warm, some are devastatingly negative, and others offer astute critical insights and a few positive remarks. Once the film has reached a wider audience and further critical abuse, I mean reviews, you can expect another posting from me.

I recommend that you see the film and make up your own mind. That is what I intend to do.

And because there is so little Gabriel Byrne in the text below, I have provided as many pictures of him as possible. You are welcome. wink

gb-berlinale-2015-press-conference-grinThis is the appropriate way to deal with lousy reviews of your latest film…

reviews

Berlinale 2015: Nobody Wants the Night, by Maximilien Luc Proctor for The Focus Pull (February 5, 2015)

There comes a point at which she must wait for her husband. Most of her team leaves to head back — because as they’d warned her, it’s too dangerous to stay because of the elements and the winter to come. Josephine’s hard-headed ideas of tradition ensure she stays so as to risk her life just to be there when her husband gets back. So, she stays. So too, does an Inuit girl stay, named Allaka. There is a lesson of tolerance and understanding here that has been told a hundred times over in a hundred other films, but where Nobody Wants the Night differs lies in its surprises; both narratively and emotionally. As the story progresses and a pair of minor twists are unveiled, the lesson moves beyond mere tolerance and human understanding to a story of a true bond and the idea of a domestic situation in complete opposition to the standard home life of the time.

There are moments of brilliance both brief and fleeting, quickly buried under the snow to leave plenty of gripe-worthy material left out and exposed to the elements, but if for no other reason, the film is refreshing for being a sincere story featuring actresses of two different races in the two lead roles directed by a woman. In 2015, such a filmmaking scenario should hardly be novel, but it is, and that’s one of the film’s biggest and best points.

Berlin Film Review: ‘Nobody Wants the Night’: Isabel Coixet’s Berlinale opener is a sleepy, snowbound study of American explorer Josephine Peary’s 1908 Arctic mission, by Guy Lodge for Variety (February 5, 2015)

“Nobody Wants the Night,” claims the title of Isabel Coixet’s internationally flavored Arctic opus, but auds may well find themselves succumbing to slumber anyway. Though it hardly wants for sincerity or ambition, Coixet’s portrait of an arduous mid-career expedition by American explorer Josephine Peary is dramatically as pallid and lifeless as the frozen tundra on which it takes place, burdened with a hokey romanticism that doesn’t complement its quasi-feminist purview. Despite the name presence of Juliette Binoche and Rinko Kikuchi — both ill cast and ill served by Miguel Barros’ windy, maudlin screenplay — and a profile-boosting slot as this year’s Berlinale opener, this particular “Night” is unlikely to see the light of day far beyond the festival circuit.

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Nobody Wants the Night: An Avalanche of Emotions, by Alfonso Rivera for Cineuropa.org (February 5, 2015):

Coixet takes us on her girls’ physical and emotional journey without ever skimping on pain, desperation, tenderness or coolness. While in the scenes with more action her limited expertise in this type of work is evident, in the more intimate moments, Coixet’s talent to deeply move us is on a par with My Life Without Me. That’s why it comes as no surprise that her tenth fiction feature is opening an exclusive competition like the Berlin Festival, and she’s the first Spanish director to do so.

Berlin Review: Isabel Coixet’s ‘Nobody Wants The Night’ Starring Juliette Binoche, Rinko Kikuchi & Gabriel Byrne, by Jessica Kiang for Indiewire/The PlayList (February 5, 2015)

Two women trapped in an igloo at the North Pole in the dead of winter and one of them is pregnant with the child of the other’s husband? What’s not to love about that logline? How is it possible to make something so dull out of that? Long before the needlessly downbeat ending, before the narrator ponders such conundra as “Josephine will once again have a roof over her head, but can any roof cover her emptiness?” “Nobody Wants the Night” became a film nobody wanted. The evocative, philosophical, awe-inspiring story that Barros and Coixet so clearly hoped to tell is in here somewhere, but sadly, you couldn’t find it with a compass.

‘Nobody Wants the Night’: Berlin Review: Juliette Binoche and Rinko Kikuchi star in this frosty, inconsistent festival opener from Spanish director Isabel Coixet, by

There are too few instances where all of the film’s different elements come together to deliver any kind of visceral charge. An exception is a scene that takes place right after Josephine first understands Allaka’s motives for the first time; we see Binoche running out into the snow, crying, while composer Lucas Vidal’s simple piano motif suggests her conflicting emotions, running the gamut from surprise to understanding and anger to sisterly comprehension and concern. If Binoche and Kikuchi (the latter boxed in by her character’s limited dialogue) didn’t have a generally convincing love-hate rapport, the film would have been a very cold affair indeed.

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Berlin Review: Juliette Binoche and Rinko Kikuchi Can’t Salvage Awful ‘Nobody Wants the Night’: Isabel Coixet’s Arctic-set journey opens this year’s Berlinale with a thud, by Kevin Lee for Indiewire (February 5, 2015)

The opening night selection of this year’s Berlin International Film Festival, “Nobody Wants the Night” provides a risible snapshot of the prevailing trends driving today’s international prestige picture. Globetrotting director Isabel Coixet teams with A-lister Juliette Binoche in this historical adventure yarn set in the Arctic, spun with themes of feminism, environmentalism and compassion for third world peoples. These high concept components probably play better on the white sheets of a co-production business proposal than they do on the snowy backdrop of the finished product; Coixet’s unfocused direction and Binoche’s grating performance waste little time sending this cinematic iditarod off-course.

“Nobody Wants the Night,” by Mark Adams for Screen Daily (February 5, 2015)

The epic nature of the first part of the film contrasts effectively with the second part, which is set largely in the rickety frozen shack and the claustrophobic igloo. It is here, with the frostiness of Josephine’s reaction to Allaka juxtaposing with the warm-hearted nature of the Inuit woman, that the film finds it dramatic heart. In rather languid style Coixet draws out the slow-burn friendship between the two women, bonded together in the love for the same man and in their very physical need to battle the elements. Binoche is effective as the haughty women who is single-minded in her determination to get to her husband, and certainly looks the part in Clara Bilbao’s impressive costumes, and is nicely complemented by Rinko Kikuchi’s warm and measured performance as the generous-spirited Inuit woman.

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Berlinale 2015: “Nobody Wants the Night” Review, by Stefan Pape for HeyUGuys.com (February 5, 2015)

Nobody Wants the Night survives, primarily, from our protagonist and entry point, Josephine. Helped along by Binoche, of course, she’s beguiling and endearing – and has quite a remarkable dress sense. While others are gallivanting around in tattered fur from animals they have hunted – she’s dressed fashionably, evidently empowered by her own sense of style and elegance, in spite of the conditions, and why not? She’s like a mixture of Blanche Dubois and Miss Havisham – with a sprinkling of Ray Mears. It’s her relationship with Allaka which provides the film with its emotional core, and while veering into somewhat predictable territory, it remains a layered, nuanced alliance – and they both have an inherent maternal nature for one another. It’s not amicable from the start however, as Josephine remains jealous of her new associate, which is not a sentiment she would have felt had she been stranded with a male. Despite being so strong-willed and progressive herself, we’re given the impression that it’s not a trait she was able to – initially – see in other women.

“Nobody Wants the Night”–Berlin 2015 Review, by Giovanni Marchini Camia for The Film Stage

Here the cinematography takes surprisingly little advantage of the spectacular nature (the film was partly shot in Norway). What little is shown of the landscape is primarily done through insert shots, whose differing texture seems to indicate that they were sourced elsewhere. By portraying the characters in close-up most of the time, the film has difficulty generating a sense of danger and adventure, so that when the mission does inevitably run into trouble, lives are lost with little impact. The insistent string and piano soundtrack that kicks in at any critical instance – and, even more regrettably, during any consequential conversation as well – does little to make up for the lacking momentousness.

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interviews

Isabel Coixet–Director: This is, without a doubt, my most daring film, by Alfonso Rivera for Cineuropa.org (February 5, 2015):

Cineuropa: Is Nobody Wants the Night your most ambitious film?
Isabel Coixet: It’s been a tough job, for the last four years, getting this difficult project off the ground. When producer Andrés Santana offered me the script, we saw that it was an incredible work and we thought: “How are we going to do this?” Because obviously it’s easier to put avalanches, ice, storms and what have you on paper… but how do you do all of this? For me it’s also been a learning process of carrying out lots of things that I’d never filmed before. It’s been my most daring film because certainly, I feel close to my characters and I understand the adventure and the mad passion but… will people understand that? Will that message reach the audience? Will it be exciting? There were so many doubts, I was really nervous.

In the face of such a challenge, only an insensitive person wouldn’t be afraid…
What’s more, there was also the issue of who would be capable of playing these characters… When I brought the script to Juliette Binoche at the Aviñón Theatre Festival and she said yes, just like Rinko Kikuchi and Gabriel Byrne, I realised that I was going to have incredible actors that would perfectly suit the characters – something that wasn’t as easy at the beginning of the project.

Juliette Binoche in Nobody Wants the Night: ‘Nobody has told the North Pole story from the point of view of a woman’, by Kate Connolly for The Guardian (February 5, 2015)

Asked how she had coped with the cold during filming, Binoche who plays Josephine, said most of the time the actors had to “create the chills” because much of the picture was filmed in a hot studio.

“It was really bloody warm in the studio [with] the lights and the wind. We had the capacity with our imaginations to create chills … that’s the the beauty of the imagination,” said the French actor.

But Gabriel Byrne, who plays Bram Trevor, a loner and explorer who risks his life to help Josephine reach her husband, revealed that on one occasion a refrigerated meat truck had been brought onto the set at the request of the French actor, to help induce the sensation of cold. “But I only went in it twice,” Binoche sheepishly admitted…

Binoche went on to say that her character symbolised western arrogance. “Nobody wants the night, nobody wants to go into that dark place, but we have to sometimes if we want to become humans.”

gb-nobodywantsthenight-redcarpet-20150205-08aBerlinale Star Portrait of our favorite star, by Gerhard Kassner

4 Comments

  1. Joanna MacGougan

    Holy crap. . . They’re a little harsh with their reviews.

  2. The reviews sound not good. Maybe they should give the movie a new name: Nobody wants this movie.
    I am sorry to read that Gabriel has a minor role in the story. I think it would have helped if they had given Gabriels role more to do. I mean, an actor like Gabriel, and two interesting actresses in the cold, white and dangerous landscape. It should have been possible to make some dramatic and romantic storylines from that?

    Well, that is just my thoughts. But I have not seen the movie yet. So I have to see it before I judge it.

  3. Meh…I wonder what the non-English speaking media are saying …there are plenty of German, French, Italian and Spanish reviews on IMBD. I’ll read a few of the French reviews here and there and report back.

    Angelle from Canada

  4. Joanna MacGougan

    I read all the reviews and I found them to be harsh although I haven’t seen the film. It’s sad to hear that Gabriel only had a small role in the 1st part of the film. I had hoped that he would have had a larger role. I have never been one to judge anyone or anything based solely on the feelings of someone else, so I will wait and judge this movie for myself. I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening, than to relax and have GB in front of me for a couple of hours ❤️. I do hope this film comes to Nova Scotia, Canada.

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