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domenica 15 maggio 2011

Life sucks! Feminist vampires in Dennis Gansel’s latest film Wir sind die nacht (We are the night).





An airplane is approaching the Berlin airport. On board everybody has been killed in a bloodbath. Only three beautiful women: leader of the pack Louise, elegant classy Charlotte and trendy fashion addicted Nora, are alive. They killed crew and passengers and drank their blood. As the plane gets closer to the final destination, they jump from it into the night.
Lena a twenty years old semi punk pickpocket, is pursued by a young cop after a hit. Hidden on a platform of a bridge she changes her clothes. The cop arrives and ask her if she saw anybody. After few minutes, he realizes this girl to be the very same one he was pursuing, but when he tries to arrest her, she hits him hardly with expert moves and jumps on a boat cruising under the bridge. The guy is astonished by this beautiful ruthless girl, and starts to laugh hard more fascinated by her, than angry. Lena’s life is miserable, she’s a juvenile delinquent, her mother doesn’t care about her and she really doesn’t know what to do. One night she follows some people going in a shut down funhouse, where a rave party is hosted by the female vampire trio. Louise chooses the people to be let in at the door, as she sees Lena, she is immediately spellbind by her wild beauty. After a dance in which she tries to seduce Lena, Louise brings her in the bathroom and bites her, without killing her. Back home, Lena feels sick as soon realizes Louise has turned her into a vampire. Reluctant at first, Lena joins the trio, and his high octane life style made of sport cars, fashion clothes, drugs and parties; they are definitely the night. But Lena will soon learn that to survive most of the times the vampires have to kill somebody, even innocent people, and that she has to renounce to everything normal, like the love of the young cop that in the meantime has been able to track her down.
A Constantine production in association with Rat Pack Films and international sales powerhouse Celluloid Dreams, We are the night marks the return of director Dennis Gansel behind the camera, after its phenomenal sensation Die Welle (The Wave). Shot in a lavish widescreen format, the film is slick and astonishing from a technical point of view. The action sequences are top notch, but Gansel shows a great ability directing even the young cast as he did in his previous movies, the mentioned The Wave and Napola. Gansel’s style is modern, without to be confusing, fast paced when necessary and accomplished in every department. Source of inspiration is the 80’s classic Lost Boys to whom We are the night would be a perfect double bill under the title Lost Girls. These vampires are sexy and full of lust, and reminds us more of Ann Rice’s ones (Interview with the vampire) than the anaemic teenagers depicted in the Twilight saga. It’s not easy nowadays to say something new about the old dear fanged friend, but even working with all the stereotypes and commonplaces Gansel manages to deliver some fresh ideas and visuals. The scene in which Lena finally becomes a vampire is both sexy and innovative. She has drunk blood for the first time, and taking a bath she transforms: her hair grows longer, she becomes more beautiful, her tattoos fade in the water leaving her with a brand new white skin without marks. The whole female approach to the vampire myth it’s interesting as well. Most of the times the vampire has been depicted as a male predator; Gansel brings back seducing lesbian blood suckers inspired by some Hammer cult films like Countess Dracula and Vampire lovers  and by the Jean Rollin’s classics Les frissons des vampires and La vampire nue. Since the vampire has always been not only a cold blooded killer, but a seducer, using his sex appeal and his victims' desire to impose his will over them, Gansel approaches this matter creating strong female characters, as beautiful as dangerous,that, as we are told in the film, got rid once and for all of all the males. The male vampires have been killed by humans or by Louise’s gang. As she states in a scene, she wants her life to be ruled by any man, be human or vampire it doesn’t matter.
It is unfortunate that most of the original elements in the film, like this one, are not fully exploited by the script and just barely mentioned. And while the first two acts of the story are powerful and interesting, this interest lowers in the last act that, even with some amazing action scenes, works on a more commercial and common ground reducing the potential of the movie to a mere entertaining vehicle. In the last fifteen minutes the story goes on a routine mode, with Lena’s love affair being predictable and failing to have the emphasis and romance of Bigelow’s Near Dark for instance. Not fully exploited, in its message, is also Louise beautiful speech about solitude and lack of love, thrown away before final showdown.
Not with this standing, the film is entertaining, and technically so competent that rivals his bigger Hollywood counterparts and beats them on many levels with skills and ideas. Production values are all on the screen, locations and sets are wonderful as well as costumes and Torsten Breuer’s lavish cinematography that well captures the swarming nightlife depicted in most of the scenes. SPFXs are few but very good and used functional to tell the story, without being “the only story”. One clever idea is to illustrate for instance Charlotte's past life, showing the audience she was an actress in Lang’s masterpiece Dr. Mabuse der spieler. It’s a nice homage from Gansel that sows citations all around the film and displays sometimes a touch of classy black humour, as when Charlotte before to kill an innocent guard of a place in which she broke in with the others, is reading the book For whom the bell tolls. Funny and original even the location used for this sequence, one of the girls has complained that she misses sun too much, so Louise brings them to a close winter structure with artificial sun and beach. I recommend this film even with all its flaws, because is fun, with a cast of well amalgamated and talented actresses: Karoline Herfurth, Nina Hoss, Jennifer Ulrich and Anna Fisher.
Released last November in Germany, his native country, the film had tepid BO, I believe due to a poster campaign that made the film look more like a Sex and the city kind of product. That was indeed another source of inspiration but  some poeple may have been misled by these artworks. Since then, the film has been a market sensation at both AFM and Berlin. I predict strong international sales with nice  results in key markets specially with strong video and VOD revenues. The movie would deserve a theatrical run, and I suggest a platform, limited one to be expanded if results pay off.
The film is now available on BRD and DVD in Germany (German only) and France. The BRD examined here is the French one and the one I suggest to go for, distributed by Metropolitan Film & Video. It is region B locked, but the movie is available also in an English dubbed version (5.1 DTS HD). I went for the German track (5.1 DTS HD) with French subs. The audio is strong and powerful and well reproduce the excellent sound of the film as well as its wonderful score, a mix of  rock and tecno that well serves the mood of the whole story.
French dubbed track available as well (5.1 DTS HD), plus a ton of extras, in German with French subtitles only. These include: 2 alternate ending (that are no better than the factual one), 9 deleted scenes, Charlotte in Dr. Mabuse: a SPFX essay that shows the process used to erase one actress, from the original Lang’s film,  to replace her with Charlotte. Director’s diary, Crew interviews trailers and making of clips.  The HD master is crisp and well detailed, a little too soft at times, but maybe it was the glossy theatrical presentation that looked this way. Colours are warm  strong and saturated with an intended tendency to orange. OAR 2.35:1, 16X9, 1920X1080p.

Film mass is ended you may go in peace
The Vikar

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