There are three major building blocks in Nuit #1: the film's concept and execution, de Lean's performance, and Storoge's performance. Director / screenwriter Anne Emond (making her debut feature) probably hopes for these elements to go together, to dovetail and find meaning in their confluence, but they remain blatantly separate. The fact that the film concludes with the best one (de Leon) works in its favor, and may sway some people toward a positive outlook, but the film is still less than the sum of its parts, lacking crucial dramatic cohesion.
At the center of Nuit #1 is the fleeting nature of a one-night stand. Two people with their own lives interact in the most intimate way possible for one night, and then go back to those lives. "I know what you taste like," Nikolai says, "but I've never seen you eat anything." Despite walking out the door three different times, Clara and Nikolai stay together, sharing more intimate secrets with each other than they possibly could have imagined. After one heartfelt speech, Clara confides that not even her mother knows what she's just told Nikolai. Of the film's three pieces, the concept is contrived, allowing moments of emotional weakness or understanding that probably wouldn't occur in the real world, but understandably so, in ways that can be overlooked for a first-time filmmaker, and even accepted in light of a worthwhile emotional or thematic payoff.
The second element is Nikolai, who gets things rolling with his rant, including the comment about watching Clara eat. Nikolai is angry, in an authentic but incredibly obnoxious way, raging against the world's hypocrisy without having any particularly good answers himself. He openly insults Clara for trying to leave, for quoting passages from a book she doesn't understand, for not having any answers. Conveniently, when Nikolai doesn't have any answers, he doesn't turn much of that critical view on himself, which would be fine if it didn't feel like Emond had no interest in criticizing him either. He's honest about his own shortcomings, admitting that he's poor, lazy, in bad health, a procrastinator, unreliable, and so on, but there's a sense that his acknowledgement of these shortcomings somehow makes them slightly less deplorable. The film intentionally paints him as arrogant, but never successfully ties that arrogance into something deeper or worthy of sympathy. Nikolai is unlikable, and remains unlikable, filled with existential frustration on problems he's responsible for.
After Nikolai's portion of the film, Emond turns to de Lean, whose performance throughout the film has more life and spirit. Although Nikolai is written as a disillusioned person, Clara has her own sense of desperation and despair, yet de Lean has an on-screen presence that Storoge can't match. Her delivery is much more compelling, even if Emond's writing isn't necessarily much deeper. de Lean's big speech, delivered almost entirely in a single, simple close-up, is overwhelming in its depiction of Clara's loneliness and sadness. At the same time, Emond doesn't seem to know how these two people are related, if they're related, and what their relation means. As the film draws to a close, Emond flies past what would appear to be a logical finish, continuing into an additional scene that is somehow frustrating. Both moments are open-ended, but Emond's selection leaved the viewer with the sense that whatever she's going for isn't coming across.
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