Bright Nights Screen 6 articles

Bright Nights

2017

Bright Nights Poster
  • A man and his son go hiking in jeans. The boy rips his jeans. Ende. Dramatic tension doesn’t build in this utterly boring father-son drama. Shot in Northern Norway, but failing to capture even the scope and (I suspect) beauty of the landscape, this film is concerned with affluent male problems. Cue tumbleweed.

  • I bow to no one in my admiration of Thomas Arslan, but this film is just weak. I can only hope that this tale of a largely absent father (Georg Friedrich) and his implausible semi-reconciliation with his teenage son (Tristan Göbel) has some deeply personal meaning for the director, because I am hard-pressed to see how it could communicate with anyone else.

  • The danger in underrating a very good film like [Bright Nights]—and many critics so far have been outright dismissive, though the scores on Critic.de‘s Berlinale jury grid are, on average, encouraging—is that a major work in an undeservedly overlooked oeuvre will be reduced to a footnote. For the time being; I have a hunch that, in the long run, [Bright Nights] will come in for the recognition it deserves.

  • The premise of someone thus crippled by guilt is familiar to the point of cliché, but Arslan’s treatment is exceptionally understated... Compare it to a film like the monstrously overhyped Manchester by the Sea, which eroded its narrative’s impact through excess – why is it necessary for a man to get drunk and kill his three children in a fire to introduce a theme as universally relatable as regret? Arslan avoids all such extravagance in favor of... a very gradual accumulation of meaning.

  • As someone who has spent the last dozen or so years working on the films of the Berlin School – and has taken great pleasure in doing so! – I was keenly aware of my sense that Arslan’s film may be driving into a dead-end. Yet, the film’s central moment of trance-formation subtly seems to have left its mark on me, for I have kept thinking about it, re-sensing it: the beauty of its ineffable and indescribable affective force that exceeds whatever the plot, as far as there is one, is about.

  • Arriving like a breath of fresh air five days into the 67th Berlinale, Thomas Arslan’s Bright Nights salvaged what was by all accounts was another typically lacklustre Competition lineup. Perhaps it was the film’s crisp Nordic setting and perpetually sunny exteriors, but Arslan’s latest, with its unassuming setup and undemonstrative tenor, felt, if nothing else, directed by a consummate artist unafraid to let the work speak for itself.

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