NUIT #1 ★★★ out of four stars
Rating: Not rated. • Theater: St. Anthony Main.
A daring and assured debut for Quebec filmmaker Anne Émond. After meeting at a sweat-soaked rave, French-Canadian Clara (Catherine De Léan) and Ukrainian immigrant Nikolai (Dimitri Storoge) return to his apartment for a sustained, passionate, almost wordless bout of lovemaking. Then they shed their emotional inhibitions, confessing their deepest insecurities and anxieties and moving from a chance encounter to possibly something more. Some of their dialogue is twaddle -- they're not philosophers -- but the feelings are electric. We haven't heard torrents of talk this intoxicating since the heyday of Eric Rohmer. The scene where their emotional imbroglio spills out onto the street and they grapple, pull away and embrace is a magical moment of modern dance.
★★★★ out of four stars
Rating: R for language and sexual content/nudity. • Theater: Lagoon.
Based on true events, Craig Zobel's ferocious second feature was the talk of this year's Sundance Film Festival. Working at a fast-food restaurant, employee Becky (Dreama Walker) is accused of stealing money from a patron by her supervisor Sandra (a terrific Ann Dowd), who was informed of the theft by Officer Daniels over the phone. But is Officer Daniels legit? Zobel's masterful direction and screenplay heighten the distress of authority figures possessing unseen persuasion over naive employees, exposing a disturbing and haunting look at what some workers are willing to do in order to follow orders.
JIM BRUNZELL III
OSLO, AUGUST 31
★★★★ OUT OF FOUR STARS
Rating: Not rated • Theater: Lagoon.
Set mostly in Oslo at the sad end of summer, this wrenching sophomore feature from director Joachim Trier ("Reprise") is itself a kind of long goodbye, bidding farewell, it seems, to 30-ish Anders (Anders Danielsen Lie), a chronically depressed writer and nominally rehabbed addict who can't seem to muster the desire to live. And yet the film is infinitely more than a bummer, displaying an invigoratingly acute understanding of the psychology of insecurity, longing, defensiveness and inward-turning rage. All of this is conveyed evocatively by the haunting Lie, whose future appears infinitely brighter than that of his character.