From the pen and eye of the same woman who made the quirky independent darling of the late 80s arthouse scene, I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, this is another lesbian love story, albeit one entangled in the trappings of heterosexuality and the moral complications of theology. A lush and sensual drama streaked with a curious sense of humour, it’s an intimate romance that continues to age like an exquisite wine; rich, vibrant, heady and intoxicating. Throw in a “Sirkus of Sorts” and you’ve got a small, but wonderful dose of surrealism to wrap around the erotic dramatics.
Camille’s world is turned upside down when her precious dog is run over, and her laundry goes home with the wrong woman, Petra. But fate brings the two women together again. Petra throws a delicious spanner into Camille’s works, and her fiancé, Martin, feels the cold metal slap him in the face. Reverend DeBoer, the couple’s moral compass, holds great concern for Camille’s wayward behaviour, as Martin struggles to rationalise the chasm opening up between them. While the men stew in the juice of their contempt, Camille and Petra find themselves inexorably entwined.
Pascale Brussieres as Camille and Rachael Crawford as Petra are sensational as the star-crossed lovers, each a foil to the other’s desires. The always-watchable Henry Czerny is excellent as Martin, Camille’s fiancé, while David Fox adds weight as the Reverend, and Don McKellar and Tracy Wright as the circus organisers, provide offbeat comic zing.
When Night is Falling is unashamedly beautiful, from the gorgeous contrasting leads, to the fabulous cinematography, the hypnotic music, and the elegant production design. The unexpected romance is what drives the narrative, but there’s a subtext: the friction of what we appear on the outside, rubbing against whom we are on the inside. Director Patricia Rozema toys with this, allowing elements of fantasy to weave and undulate imbuing the film with a Fellini-esque magic realism. ‘Tis a dreamy, mischievous affair.
When Night is Falling film review by Bryn Tilly of www.cultprojections.com