A Thousand Times Goodnight (2013)

ERIK POPPE

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB

Original title:  Tusen Ganger God Natt

Alternate title:  1,000 Times Good Night

Norway/Ireland/Sweden, 2013.  , , , .  Screenplay by Erik Poppe, , additional material by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .

An internationally famous war photographer (Juliette Binoche) is nearly killed when a suicide bomber she is photographing destroys a marketplace in Kabul.  She is sent home to Ireland to recover with her frustrated husband () and two estranged children, forced to face the fact that her devotion and excellence on the field is destroying her life at home.  When she realizes that her family now matters more than anything else, she announces that she has given up war photography, but how long can she last before she realizes that a person cannot help but be themselves?  It all comes to a head when her daughter convinces her to take her to Kenya to a peaceful settlement camp as part of a school project, where nothing goes according to plan and Binoche is put into a direct confrontation of priorities, the fallout of which resonates beyond their return home.  Moody and melancholy, this drama is good at presenting many of its convincing scenes of conflict but often indulges in too much melodrama between the main characters.  The sorrows of the protagonist’s family life are believable but sometimes the judgment falls a little too harshly on a woman who has never pretended to be anything other than what she is, plus engenders little sympathy on the other side given that her husband is a shallow character with whom she has little chemistry, and her younger daughter a difficult brat (a kid who screams that many demands at me would send me to the nearest suicide bomber too).  What it has going for it most, other than a satisfying and logical conclusion, is the performance by Binoche, whose sensitivity and intelligence in all situations keeps it from being the soap opera it really seems to be unable to avoid; just watching her react moment to moment is a bewitching study in charisma and gives the film more depth than it deserves, but don’t expect something too memorable.

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