I recently praised The Overnight for finding a surprisingly effective homogeneous blend of the black comedy & the light sex romp and now I appreciate it even more after watching the same blend fail so miserably in You and the Night. Where The Overnight utilizes its small cast & budget to enhance its own sense of uncomfortable intimacy, You and the Night points to its own financial shortcomings intentionally as a source of would-be humor. You and the Night is embarrassingly bad in a try-hard, underfunded art-house way that somehow makes an orgy hopelessly boring. At times it feels like a stage play and in other moments it could be mistaken for an oldschool horror anthology (with a lot more prosthetic cocks than usual), but the effect is the same either way. You and the Night tries to point to its own artificiality as a form of campy amusement, but the result is more embarrassing than it is funny.
The few moments that actually succeed happen when the film drops its own bullshit sense of detachment & sincerely tries to create something worth looking at. There’s a nice dream logic to its individual anthology segments that leads to some great shots like a green screen motorcycle ride, an Alice in Wonderland style ballet, and a trip to a phantom movie theater. These scenes feel just as fake as the too-cool-to-be-sincere orgy set-up that binds them, but they actually leave a lasting impression that the rest of the film is unlikely to.
A lot of You and the Night feels like a French comedy spoofing the nature of French comedies. It presents an exaggerated sense of detachment & coquetry that’s difficult to react to in any way outside a scoff. If I had caught this movie on late night cable as a teen I might’ve gotten a little more out of it. The idea of a dark comedy set at a pansexual fuckfest still holds a lot of drawing power for me now, which is how I ended up lazily watching it on Netflix in the first place. It’s unfortunate that You and the Night can’t deliver on the promise of that premise, though, and holds all sincerity & genuine effort at arm’s length. Even a few intense images & an incredible, synth-soaked score from M83 can’t save this film from its own sardonic self-amusement.