Monday, April 30, 2018

Talking Tribeca: Blue Night

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place April 18th-29th.

Blue Night
Directed by Fabien Constant
Spotlight Narrative

For many performers, being on stage and in front of an audience represents the embodiment of how they interact with the world. A singer losing their voice can be catastrophic, and even though some, like Julie Andrews, are able to remain involved in the world of music in a different capacity, there is something crucial that is missing from their lives. Finding out that such a change – or something much worse – is coming is devastating, and can greatly affect someone as they consider their options and face a future that looks impossibly different from the present.

Vivienne Carala (Sarah Jessica Parker) arrives late to rehearsal for a big show at the Birdland Jazz Club after receiving horrible news from her doctor that a mild pain in her head is in fact a tumor which, even after surgery, may leave her with little more than a year to live. As she tries to put off processing what she has learned, Vivienne navigates New York City, stopping in to see her daughter and ex-husband (Simon Baker), evading her mother (Jacqueline Bisset), and seeking comfort from her manager (Common).

From the film’s opening moment, there is a distinctive musical score that anchors Vivienne’s shock and the dreamlike way she wanders through the city. It’s an effective device that isolates her and externalizes the thoughts that she does not express to those around her, some of whom notice that she seems unlike herself. The film also has a specific look and feel to it, one that makes it seem as if Vivienne at once owns this city and knows nothing about it, representative of the control that she has lost over her future on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the start of her career.

Parker doesn’t seem like the first choice for such a role given her TV work on “Sex and the City” and “Divorce,” but she turns in a heartfelt and emotional performance, one anchored by an ability to hide her feelings as she gets lost in her own thoughts. The film is best as a showcase of her journey, one that many may have to experience but still manages to feel deeply personal. The inclusion of an unfriendly Lyft driver (Waleed Zuaiter) who encounters Vivienne on numerous occasions is peculiar, and the film occasionally drifts from its most interesting moments to those that feel unnecessary and hardly vital to this character study.


No comments: