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A THOUSAND TIMES GOOD NIGHT

SYNOPSIS: Rebecca (Juliette Binoche) is a top war photographer. On assignment while photographing a female suicide bomber group in Kabul, she gets too near and is badly hurt in an explosion. Back home, another bomb drops. Her husband and daughters can no longer the thought of her dying on assignment and give her an ultimatum: her work or her family. The choice seems obvious.

Review by Louise Keller:
The eye of truth is in focus in this hard-hitting drama in which it is not only the camera but the consequences behind the exposure that spool out their angst. In a heart-wrenching performance, Juliette Binoche haunts as a war-photographer whose camera acts as her moral compass but blinds her to her family's needs. Erik Poppe's politically relevant film is about conflict of different kinds: both in war and at home. Beyond the horrors and ugliness of war, it is the resulting deeply personal issues and their impact on relationships that become an inner sword.

One of the first images we see is that of an eye. An eye of a woman hidden in the back of a truck in Kabul: Rebecca (Binoche) wear a hijab as she readies herself to document the rituals of a suicide bomber. The eye watches, sees and shares what it sees through the lens of a camera. A woman lies in a grave while women around her chant. She is cleansed, dressed and explosives tied around her. Rebecca's camera records it all; her obsession to share the horror driving her closer to events than common sense might suggest. This all-important set up with its disturbing images, tells us much about Rebecca and her fearless, intuitive compulsion to go to extreme lengths for her pictures.

We then see the other side of Rebecca as she returns home to her family, where there is clearly deep-seated tension with her marine biologist husband Marcus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). 'I'm not good at life; being normal,' she tells Marcus and the fact that he sleeps on the couch is not a good sign, as observed by one of their two daughters.

A school project about Africa for teenage daughter Steph (Lauryn Canny) becomes the catalyst for what happens next, impacting on all members of the family and their relationships. Canny is exceptional as the sensitive teen whose admiration for her mother's work is coloured by the constant fear of losing her. 'It would be easier if you were dead,' she tells her mother in one emotional scene. Watch out for the lovely scene in the Kenyan refugee camp where mother and daughter share confidences as they sit on separate beds under mosquito nets, each cocooned by her own perspective. Anger is the driver Rebecca explains, when asked why she started taking photos of people about whom nobody cared.

As conflict erupts in Kenya, we can see how Rebecca is drawn to the action - like a moth to a flame. The consequences form a pathway to an explosion of emotional outpouring and angst - at home this time. For once the tables are turned when it comes to recording pain. The whirring of the lens of the camera in a confrontation between mother and daughter is far more effective than words could ever be.

Poppe's film is devoid of histrionics or melodrama - just truthful emotions and reactions. Binoche never plays a false note: her emotions are so transparent, we almost feel as though we are intruding. It's a wonderful performance that elevates a potent and worthwhile drama that has something to say.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

A THOUSAND TIMES GOOD NIGHT (M)
(Norway, Ireland, Sweden, 2013)

Tusen ganger god natt

CAST: Juliette Binoche, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Lauryn Canny, Chloe Annett

PRODUCER: Finn Gjerdrum, Stein b. Kvae

DIRECTOR: Erik Poppe

SCRIPT: Erik Poppe, Harald Roselow-Eeg

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Christian Rosenlund

EDITOR: Sofia Lindgren

MUSIC: Armand Amar

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Eleanor Wood

RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Regency Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 27, 2014







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