Night Across the Street
|Night Across the Street|
|Directed by||Raúl Ruiz|
|Produced by||Christian Aspee, François Margolin|
|Written by||Raúl Ruiz (based on Hernán del Solar)|
|Music by||Jorge Arriagada|
|Edited by||Raúl Ruiz, Valeria Sarmiento, Christian Aspee|
Night Across the Street (Spanish: La noche de enfrente) is a 2012 Chilean drama film directed by Raúl Ruiz. It was screened in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, as well as at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, the 2012 New York Film Festival and the 2013 Hong Kong International Film Festival.
In his final completed film, Ruiz created a film about the idea of death itself. In this film, there are three dimensions of time that Ruiz plays with. Time as a dimension can be explained further here.
The film begins with the protagonist Don Celso (Sergio Hernández) in a classroom taught by a famous French writer Jean Giono (Christian Vadim). In this session, Giono lectures about the use of language and how phrases used in different languages simply do not work. As everyone’s eyes are closed, an alarm goes off in Don Celso’s pocket which is a reminder for him to take his medicine. This is followed up by a discussion between Don Celso and Jean Giono outside of class. They both discuss how time stumbles along in life which is ultimately what happens in the entire film. They mention how time is like marbles in which Don Celso points out that these marbles can be worn as a necklace. This refers to the film when Don Celso explores different fantasies in his life as his current self or child-self shortly after. This entire sequence is an exploration of time that he has with himself.
Immediately after, the story takes place in what we believe to be his current time. He is working at an office where they write poetry. Don Celso is shown at his desk, away from everybody as he is in his own state of mind, moving his hands like puppets talking to one another. His coworker points out that he has never done this before, but with the previous sequence that we have seen, we can assume that he is moving his hands this way because he is reenacting his conversation that he just had with Jean Giono. This could mean that he is in another dimension of time until he is alerted by his boss. We later learn in this sequence that Don Celso is only days away from retirement and that he is going to have a retirement party the next day.
We are followed up by Don Celso in his third dimension, as a young boy who calls himself Rhododendron Celso(Santiago Figueroa) or Rodo for short. In this sequence he is interacting with famous pirate, Long John Silver (Pedro Villagara) or Captain as he asks to be called. In this interaction, we see Celso’s perspective on who he believes Long John Silver to be which clearly dates back to several centuries ago. Ruiz implements his style as he plays with fantasy and memory here as he is shown creating separate worlds for his characters at this early stage in the film which is.
The films then goes back to its first dimension with Jean Giono as Don Celso and Giono talk about both their lives. We learn here that Don Celso is waiting for the man that is going to kill him soon. This idea of being killed is the ultimate drive for Don Celso as the film continues. The film immediately follows back into the third dimension with Rodo. This stands out in the film because we eventually learn at the end of the film Rodo Celso is the one to kill Don Celso (This will be explained later). The transition from first dimension to third initially was because Don Celso is asked who his favorite historical figure is. Rodo responds with Beethoven. We are introduced to a time where Rodo actually travels into another dimension (yes there are a lot of time dimension travelling in this film) to speak to Beethoven (Sergio Schmied). In this world with Beethoven, he is not deaf and learns the many innovations and inventions of the 20th century (which brings the Ruizian comedy to play).
Somehow this dimension is connected with the second dimension in the form of a story. Don Celso is shown actually reading the stories that we see with Rodo on paper at a recording station. In Rodo’s story, we learn that he is trying to get his low grade changed to a higher one from the teacher who gave it to him. Throughout parts of this time, Rodo is accompanied by Beethoven. There is a scene where Beethoven is at the cinema with Rodo and he asks him why do people go to the cinema if they don’t know what it’s even about and Rodo responds by saying that we just come to have fun, not learn anything. Though it doesn’t drive the plot anywhere, it is a humorous remark on Ruiz which makes fun of Hollywood cinema. Despite his journey of trying to improve his grade, we learn that Rodo is a very intelligent young boy who knows just about everything he is asked. After going home unable to change his grade, his parents attempt to whip him with a belt, but is saved by Rodo’s grandfather.
The film progresses back on to the second dimension with Don Celso. Here we are introduced to Rolo Pedro (Christian Gajardo) who comes into a boarding home to stay with the ultimate goal to kill Don Celso and take his money. Don Celso even knows he is going to kill him by saying it aloud; however, what is important here is when Don Celso and Rolo Pedro are first introduced, Don Celso repeats his name several times and eventually says Rhododendron because they sound very similar to him. This is significant because even though he thinks Rolo Pedro will kill him, it is actually Rhododendron that does.
The film begins to pick up as a few more cuts to different dimensions are made, but ultimately is carried through the second dimension with Don Celso. A mass murder happens at the boarding home that he lives at with all the characters that we have met in the film are dead and moved on into another world. Don Celso is the only one left in the boarding home. Ruiz then goes on to play with both the second and third dimensions as he places both the young Rodo Celso and Don Celso in the same dimension in the same conversation. Rodo appears first, but then Don later appears shortly after. This signifies that they are indeed the same person and then makes us feel that the story in which we had originally believed to be the actual dimension of the real world, becomes questionable or better yet, a story. Throughout the film, we believed Rodo Celso’s story to be the imaginative one, but with Long John Silver’s conversation with Don Celso, we are now unsure of that being the actual truth if there is any to begin with.
This puzzling sequence is followed up by Rodo Celso putting a gun to Don Celso’s head and shooting. As a result, Don Celso enters an entirely new dimension where the dead all seem to exist (they all have bullet wounds of how they died throughout the rest of the film indicating a change of dimension). Don Celso is shown trying to learn this new place that he finds himself in. As the films winds down to an end, don Celso finds three people at a time in different locations who are all in a state of speaking with the dead. After this moment, they get up with Don Celso and follow him onto the next room. This happens until all the significant characters reunite in one final setting. It is in its own way a funeral service for Don Celso. They all take a seat in the chair as they listen to three of Don Celso’s previous co-workers give speeches about remember Don Celso. This feels like almost a self-reflection of Ruiz and his entire work in cinema.
- Christian Vadim as Professor Giono
- Sergio Hernández as Celso Robles
- Santiago Figueroa as Celso Niño
- Valentina Vargas as Nigilda
- Chamila Rodríguez as Rosina
- Pedro Vicuña as Antenor
- Cristián Gajardo as Rolo Pedro
- Pedro Villagra as Capitain
- Pablo Krögh as Gural Piriña
- Marcial Edwards as Jefe
- Valentina Muhr as Laurita Petrafiel
- Sergio Schmied as Beethoven
- Daniel Guillon as Belmar
- Viviana Herrera as Madre de Celso
- Arturo Rossel as Padre de Celso
- Eugenio Morales as Abuelo de Celso
- Arnaldo Berrios as Padre de Belmar
- José Luis López as Carlos Guerrero
- Cassiel Rojas as Jorge Morales
- Francisco Celhay as Ciclista Ugalde
- Juan Pablo Miranda as Robledano
- Roberto Cobian as Sr. Sarmiento
- Karina Meza as Hija of Belmar
- Eduardo Jaramillo as Almacenero
- Felipe Toledo as Gustavo
- Carlos Flores as Sr. Bitis
La Noche de Enfrente was selected to show at the following film festivals:
- New York Film Festival (2012)
- Cannes Film Festival (2012)
- Toronto Film Festival (2012)
- Hong Kong Film Festival (2013) 
- Leffler, Rebecca. "Cannes 2012: Michel Gondry's 'The We & The I' to Open Director's Fortnight". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
- "2012 Selection". quinzaine-realisateurs.com. Directors' Fortnight. Archived from the original on 26 April 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
- "Programmer's Note". tiff.net. Archived from the original on 27 August 2012. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
- "2012 New York Film Festival Line-Up Announced". collider.com. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
- "HKIFF Review: Night Across the Street / La noche de enfrente (2012) – Chile". HK Neo Reviews. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
- Martin, Adrian (3 September 2015). "A little fiction: person, time and dimension in Raúl Ruiz's figural cinema". 29 (5): 689–701. doi:10.1080/02560046.2015.1125098. Retrieved 17 March 2017 – via Taylor and Francis+NEJM.
- "Night Across The Street (La Noche de Enfrente): Cannes Review". Retrieved 17 March 2017.
- Knegt, Peter. "TIFF List 2012: A Complete List of All Films at the Toronto International Film Festival - IndieWire". Retrieved 17 March 2017.
- "Night Across the Street - Film Details :: The 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival". Retrieved 17 March 2017.