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Although plunging a cinema into inky blackness might seem counter-productive, director Lawrence Johnston (Life, Eternity)...
Although plunging a cinema into inky blackness might seem counter-productive, director Lawrence Johnston (Life, Eternity) insists that the beauty of darkness is all around us. As night fell, he took a camera into Australia's urban wilderness to reveal the wonder found therein. He roams (mostly central, mostly Sydney) city highways and byways to poke a restless camera at those who dwell there. It's a bewitching, sensual experience that makes us voyeurs of this other world, peering into windows and behind doors across the nation. His subjects, caught off guard and defenceless, tell an intriguing story. Less effective is a voice track of personal commentaries whose intimacy is juxtaposed with the aloof vision. Occasionally we travel into the country, though Johnson's point of interest is the intersection between people and the night, and the abstractions on God, sex, love, hope and fear that that entails. Cezary Skubiszewski's evocative score acts as the super-glue that binds the incongruent subject matter together.
In many ways, Night is more about light and the way in which it affects human behaviour. Johnston seeks to balance the visual discourse against commentaries by friends and colleagues who discuss their nocturnal experience, though many are thin and not nearly as poignant as the film deserves. They become a major distraction and less would have been considerably more in light of the enthralling ocular experience. With some meanderings far off topic, and the lack of diversity in locations (does nothing happen at night in the 'burbs?), the film is divested of much of its power. However, Night has an enormous future on DVD as a chill-out essential: turn off the commentary to create a haunting and immediate vision-and-score variant on Baraka. Until then, it's an interesting if flawed journey into the heart of darkness.