Direction: Patricia Rozema
It brings careers, sexuality, religion, theology, pedagogy, literature, performing arts, substance-abuse (okay, it’s p0t they talk about) etc. together through stark symbolism and bold imagery.
Camille (played so naturally by Pascale Bussières) is a literature professor at a religious college dating a fellow professor (of theology). Martin, the lover, is chasing career opportunities while Camille is looking for real love (which she loses when her dog dies in disturbing circumstances and chooses to make space for the dead dog in her fridge).
While mourning for the dog, she meets Petra (charmingly affable Rachael Crawford) – a circus performer who is said to wear racy clothes, living in a converted truck, drinking out of glasses with round bottoms and performing interesting (feminist) gigs. The one gig with the iron box is a great display of absurdist feminist performances.
Camille and Petra fall in love – after Petra almost stalking Camille and cornering her to take interest. Camille, of course, is immensely attracted – she initiates their first kiss, comes around and initiates their first love-making (which is picturised in great detail and class). She is embarrassed about her sexual preference in the beginning and cringes at the thought of PDA. The film takes you through Camille’s life in stages of indifference – interest – denial – contemplation – pursuit – embarrassment – acceptance. Her struggle is palpable. Petra being a woman of colour adds a new layer of complexity to the story. (A very interesting read here on racial complexities)
At the end of an extremely moving, highly engaging, intriguing film, I am left to wonder if the symbolisms are indeed intended the way I perceive it. The relationship between Camille and Martin is seen as bland and unexciting – they wear grey clothes, accept religious teachings as the final word, spend no quality time together and there is discomfort that is more felt than seen. However, Camille’s scenes with Petra are filled with references of being out-of-normal – the glass I mentioned earlier, the gigs in the circus, the nomadic life, the pot-smoking, the struggle for making ends meet – make me wonder if the idea of the film is to treat lesbianism as non-mainstream (if not exactly deviant). Not that I am saying that is a good or a bad thing.
In all, when night is falling, is moving, feels real and highly engaging with the beautiful colours and breathtaking imagery. If it doesn’t bother you to see two women in love with each other (or even if it does), watch this film.