The Passengers of the Night
Charlotte Gainsbourg is the essence of Gallic cool in this moody, insouciant film from French dramatist Mikhaël Hers (Amanda).
In 1981, even as Paris explodes with optimism at the election of socialist candidate François Mitterand as president, Elisabeth (Gainsbourg, Jacky in the Kingdom of Women, MIFF 2014; Melancholia, MIFF 2011) is on the back foot: a cash-strapped, recently divorced cancer survivor who needs to provide for her two adolescent offspring. Beginning from this point of considerable conflict, Hers instead unfurls a nostalgic and quietly uplifting narrative that – following the entry of a wayward teen into the family’s lives – traces Elisabeth’s years-long journey of self-rediscovery.
The film’s breezy quality is sustained by key supporting roles for French icon Emmanuelle Béart, as the radio host who gives Elisabeth a job, and up-and-comer Noée Abita, as the runaway who joins Elisabeth’s nest, as well as by a period-appropriate soundtrack that features local heroes The Go-Betweens. Propelled by the at-once deft and disarming Gainsbourg – whose directorial debut, Jane by Charlotte, also screens at this year’s MIFF – The Passengers of the Night is a languidly charming testament to the power of time to heal all wounds.
“A gorgeous invitation to slow down and take it all in before life passes by.” – IndieWire
French, with English subtitles