Smaller in scale and scope than Lisbon, Night Across the Street is a quieter, more unassuming farewell to be sure. But it is also a remarkably strong meditation on life and death, greeting death as an old friend rather than an enemy to be feared. The resulting film seems like a warm embrace, at times scattershot, at times involving, always fascinating - a prismatic stock of a life as viewed by a man in final stages of his life. Death is coming, one way or another. And here its arrival is fully accepted.
|Sergio Hernandez in Raúl Ruiz's "Night Across the Street."|
Courtesy of Cinema Guild.
Based on a series of short stories by Chilean author Hernan del Solar, the film eschews typical narrative form for something more impressionistic (reinforced by its dreamlike use of greenscreen). Del Solar belonged to a group of writers called the "Imaginists," who rebelled against naturalistic writing for something more imaginative and less formal. Ruiz' film captures that spirit without ever feeling as if its just being whimsical for whimsy's sake. It is a film that is both warm and cold, sweet and sour, loving and biting. Ruiz went out not with a bang, but with a whisper. But it is a gentle whisper, a finely tuned rumination on life and death, endings and beginnings, that proved remarkably prescient. As the great director's final statement to the world, Night Across the Street is a fond and fitting farewell.
GRADE - ★★★ (out of four)
NIGHT ACROSS THE STREET | Directed by Raul Ruiz | Stars Christian Vadim, Sergio Hernandez, Valentina Vargad, Chamila Rodriguez | Not Rated | In Portuguese with English subtitles | Now playing in select cities.