Un Año, Una Noche (One Year, One Night)
On the night of 13th November 2015, Paris was shaken by a series of terrorist attacks that claimed 137 lives. One of the locations chosen by the terrorists was the Bataclan Theatre, where a concert by the Eagles of Death Metal turned into a nightmare. Based on the memories and testimony of Roman Gonzalez and those who experienced the horror and survived to tell the tale, Un Año, Una Noche relives the events of the massacre and sees how the lives of those present changed over the year that followed.
In the days after the attack, Céline (Noémie Merlant) and Ramón (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart), like many victims, receive no support from the authorities and are simply expected to carry on, managing their post-traumatic stress however they can. They wish for their lives and relationship to return to what they were before but, for them, the scars mean they will never be the same again. Céline chooses to look forward in an attempt to move on, whereas Roman seeks counselling with a desire to reflect and remember; the two different paths begin to drive a wedge between the couple, who find themselves thrust into an unimaginable scenario.
Director Isaki Lacuesta’s film is a study of the widely varying ways people deal with such an event. The sound design and editing play a huge role, with the narrative cutting between the event and the present as Céline and Ramón tackle the year together. The world becomes loud and dangerous for them in the first few days, with even a ride on a compact bus proving a visceral experience. There is a sense of impending doom as flashbacks to the concert continue, the chaos and mayhem making for a chilling experience as the camera gets caught up in the unimaginable whirlwind of panic, dragging the viewer into the tangle of limbs and terrified victims.
Merlant continues her meteoric rise, starring as Céline, but this time it is César award-winning actor Pérez Biscayart who steals the limelight in an exhausting show of emotion, as it becomes evident that he is handling his PTSD far less effectively. The two have irresistible on-screen chemistry – vital, given the subject matter and the emphasis placed on the couple’s romantic relationship as stress fractures begin to appear.
The acting is nothing short of superb, but the structure of the feature does bring up some problems. The timeline is simply too fragmented, becoming clunky as it loses its storytelling fluidity and becomes, at times, hard to follow. The disorganised manner can arguably be excused as a mirroring of the turmoil experienced at the Bataclan and how it is reflected into the characters’ lives, but, overall, it becomes a slightly messy experience, leaving the viewer unsure of where they are or – worse – a character’s survival.
The bittersweet ending leaves an enormous question mark over a vital potential plot twist, but Un Año, Una Noche without doubt presents an adventure that has rarely been explored on-screen before, placing under a microscope a real-life event and scenario that is still so recent and prevalent for so many.
Un Año, Una Noche (One Year, One Night) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2022 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.