Les passagers de la nuit
It is the night of the presidential elections in Paris in 1981 and Elisabeth is not looking to the future with a clear head – her marriage is falling apart, and her mind is whirling with worries about next month’s rent. Elisabeth decides to write to the host of a nightly radio show to look for work. At the peak of the radio age, she slowly gives up her passivity, and instead of watching life pass her by, now spends her nights engaged in disarming conversations on air.
Paris native Mikhaël Hers’ film, which screened in the main competition at the Berlinale, is like a baroque drama of the everyday seeped in the director’s childhood memories. The film borrows its twisting and elegiac glow of the lights at night from French film essayist Eric Rohmer, and documentary sequences from Claire Denis. After his dramedy Amanda (2018), Hers intuitively strings together fine details, the audience experiencing their delicacy as truths taken from real life. As Elisabeth, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg, tries to regain control of her life, the fears and anxieties of the French people are gradually revealed via the radio waves but unwittingly – as if taken from the pages of Balzac.