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La Noche de Enfrente (Night Across the Street) by Raoul Ruiz

August 15, 2013

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La Noche de Enfrente (Facing the Night or Face to Face with the Night would have been a better English title) is the last film completed by Raoul Ruiz (Lines of Wellington, his latest project, has been completed by Ruiz’s wife, Valeria Sarmiento), at the time of the shooting he knew that his days were numbered, so when we watch the film it’s easy to read its story – the main character, Celso (Sergio Hernández), is an old man who expects/knows/fears to die soon – as a reflection about death, but a thought of this kind could only occur to someone who is unfamiliar with Ruiz’s work and themes, nonetheless La Noche de Enfrente looks like a final film since its style and thematic motives represent a compendium of Ruiz’s cinematic catalogue.

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In real life famous French writer Jean Giono hated travels, but he really loved the name of a Chilean town – Antofagasta –  and he would have liked to live there, La Noche de Enfrente makes Giono’s dream come true, he lives in Antofagasta while his other self continues living in Paris publishing novels; dreams and aspirations have always been part of Ruiz’s cinematic vocabulary and the same is true for other cinematic inventions we find here like the appearance of characters from a fantastic world (City of Pirates come to mind when the young Celso meets Long John Silver or Beethoven), also having characters living parallel lives is another old Ruiz’s trick (Three Lives and Only One Death) but it’s easy to find connections when you are dealing with an infinite filmography like Ruiz’s, the main point is that everything in the film works on endless levels of fascination and thought, and one of the key features is the creamy atmosphere created by Ruiz’s typical slow camera movements (by Inti Briones here). What a pity that we’ll never see a new Ruiz, what a relief that he left an enormous body of work for us to explore again and again and again!

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