After Midnight (15)
Time Out says
Tue Dec 6 2005This cinephile’s romance aspires to meld Buster Keaton with ‘Jules et Jim’, though at times it feels more like ‘Amélie’ meets ‘Peeping Tom’. Giorgio Pasotti is Martino, night watchman at the film museum housed in Turin’s totemic Mole Antonelliana. A naive, impassive, Keatonesque type more given to pratfalls than conversation, he’s also an amateur filmmaker dedicated to early cinema, as both aesthetic experience and lifestyle manual. One night his comfortable, insular world is disrupted by Amanda (Francesca Inaudi), fleeing an incident involving her McBoss and a deep fat fryer and fielding calls from her feckless car thief boyfriend ‘the Angel’.
Largely set, as its title suggests, during the hours of darkness, ‘After Midnight’ is marked by a fey, somewhat distanced tone – characterised by a sarky-chatty omniscient narrator – and an occasional, less sentimental focus on its leads’ emotional shortcomings. Martino’s reliance on viewing life through a lens, at first endearingly vulnerable, takes on a creepy, voyeuristic edge, while the hurtful potential of Amanda’s attempts to have both her men and keep them don’t go unobserved.
Perhaps predictably for a film so self-consciously besotted with cinema and storytelling, however, the characters remain at one remove, with whimsical implausibilities (from nonchalantly borne bullet wounds to Fibonacci series-inspired lottery wins) compounding the impression given by the narration that they are shadow puppets dancing to a familiar tune. Martino likes the old magic lantern shows, we are told, because they had no characters, only locations – so it’s apt that ‘After Midnight’s’ most striking component is the Mole itself, a towering, hollow form offering panoramic views that are all location, no people.
Fri Dec 9, 2005