In this ensemble film, men, women and children, overcome by their desires, indulge in the excess of their feelings during a hot, stormy summer evening in the city.
A stormy summer night in Brussels. Men and women sweat through the tense, sultry heat until dawn, living, dreaming of or stumbling across love. Solitude too, occasionally also passion. It is as if time is suspended, magnified by desire and anticipation. Something will happen this evening: it is inevitable. And thus a ballet takes shape, a puzzle, a chassé-croisé. Chantal Akerman offers us “fragments of lovers’ discourse”, pieces from a novel. A dozen couples or so begin, end or continue a romance, the course of which is traced by simple but bold motifs such as the songs of Piaf. The stories take us in taxis and train stations, telephone calls, hotel rooms, hastily packed suitcases and crumpled bed sheets. The partners stay for three dances and then leave the floor. Couples are suddenly split apart by a coup de foudre, truths shatter the silence like gunfire.
“This is the meeting point of photo-narrative and the filmic avant-garde. Once again Akerman’s characteristic stylistic devices are present: the static camera, extremely geometric framings, long sequences and the precise yet slightly off-key acting - the cast seem more involved in their own truths than in reality. Three dances mark the rhythm of the film, the only pieces of music in a soundtrack made up of sounds and infrequent dialogue. The cinema of Akerman on the one hand is positioned by its grammar in the modernist tradition (with its use of the cut, elongation of time, freedom of the characters and deconstruction of the narrative); on the other it draws upon and is based in a sensibility exploring the universal nature of the novelesque.”