Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Final film of retrospective: Andrzej Zulawski's My Nights Are More Beautiful Than Your Days (Mes nuits sont plus belles que vos jours) at BAM

BAM concluded this singular theatrical opportunity to view Andrzej Zulawski's entire filmography with his 1989 French film, My Nights Are More Beautiful Than Your Days (Mes nuits sont plus belles que vos jours). I have always found the film to be a deeply melancholic work with incredible performances from both Jacques Dutronc and Sophie Marceau.

The film begins with color-saturated brain images over the opening credits while pulsing electronic music sets a strange trance into motion. Lucas (Dutronc), suffering from rapid memory and speech loss, has just been diagnosed with a rare terminal brain disease. Shortly after, a Zulawski chance encounter alters the course of Lucas' life in the form of a fleeting coda. He meets Blanche (Marceau) who is in what appears to be an awful and puzzling marriage with a man with whom she also performs as part of a psychic act. Lucas decides to abandon his computer programming life and follows Blanche to the hotel where she performs.

Lucas (like Servais in That Most Important Thing: Love) can't help but throw himself into a volatile situation between the woman he loves and her husband. Once Lucas and Blanche are able to spend more time together an electric bond forms. What further ties Lucas and Blanche together are mutual traumatic childhood flashbacks. All the while, Lucas is constantly uttering word associations in an attempt to retain memory and language skills. Zulawski uses this angle of the story in fascinating and far-reaching ways. The wordplay is tragic and hilarious, sometimes blurring the lines between the two. Dutronc plays Lucas with such a sad intensity that even when amusing bits are spoken there is an undeniable mournfulness present.  Puns, time, and love are ambiguous.

Zulawski directs My Nights Are More Beautiful Than Your Days with a meditative and trance like form. There are also surreal touches to the story that are intensified by the slow, hypnotic movements during the most tender and poetic sequences. Andrzej Korzynski provides yet another marvelous soundtrack with a beautiful piano variation that becomes entwined with the events.

Lucas' time rapidly dwindles as his mind unravels and delirium intensifies. Blanche understands the importance of the final time they are sharing together. The lines of reality deteriorate.

Prior to the film, BAM announced that the Andrzej Zulawski retrospective was a massive success due to the constant viewer support during the entire series. For their part, BAM screened another immaculate print. Zulawski is such a major cinematic force: There is simply no other director like him in the entire world. I hope that enthusiasm for Zulawski's work spreads significantly as a result of this wonderful and rare retrospective. Ideally, Zulawski will direct more masterpieces if he is so inclined to share his cinematic world once again.