La Larga Noche de Francisco Sanctis (The Long Night of Francisco Sanctis)Cannes Film Festival 2016
Closing the Un Certain Regard section for this year’s Cannes is La Larga Noche de Francisco Sanctis, a very understated, almost minimalistic short feature written and directed by Argentinian pair Francisco Márquez and Andrea Testa. Clocking in at just over 80 minutes, the film presents a succinct Orwellian narrative of one man’s unexpected and dangerous mission that takes him deep into the witching hour. There are some artful touches, and the silent, noir-like atmosphere produces several strangely tense episodes. But the film is as slight in substance as it is in running time, and the imposed grey palette rarely offers an opportunity for much visual intrigue.
Diego Velázquez stars as the titular Francisco Sanctis, an unassuming hard worker who supports his traditional nuclear family in 1970s Argentina, which remains under the rule of a military dictatorship. He has no evident political allegiances. In fact, middle-aged Francisco is the archetype of normality, perhaps even banality. His dreams extend to striving for a job promotion, but he instead receives a novelty gift box from his employers, despite his continued excellence and efficiency in the workplace. One evening he is surprisingly given information regarding two individuals who are to “disappear”. Out of character, Francis is compelled to help, and his journey commences across Buenos Aires and into the night.
Velázquez adequately conveys first the confusion toward Francisco’s burden, and subsequently the quiet determination to complete his ad hoc obligation. The apparent overriding metaphor of Argentine dictatorship is not sharply drawn out, however, and the general effect of the film is muted rather than thought-provoking. The production values are very low, with some scenes, particularly in the car, looking stagy and amateurish. There is a germ of an interesting idea here, regarding state authoritarianism and political repression, but this effort cannot quite locate its significance or satisfactorily portray its attributes.
La Larga Noche de Francisco Sanctis does not have a UK release date yet.
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Watch the trailer for La Larga Noche de Francisco Sanctis here: