Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Night Watch

The Night Watch, dir. Richard Laxton, 2011 UK, 90 min. 
Kay (Anna Maxwell Martin) and
Helen (Claire Foy) in the London
blitz in The Night Watch.
Fri. 6/17, 9:30 p.m. @ Castro

The Night Watch follows a group of interwoven characters in London during and shortly after World War II. The narrative takes an unusual structure, though, because we spend roughly the first third of the film in 1947, then abruptly fast-rewind to 1944 for the middle third, and finally fast-rewind to 1941 for most of the last third, only jumping back to 1947 at the very end. The director, Richard Laxton, also made the fabulous “Must See” An Englishman in New York, the opening film of Frameline33.

The characters are a diverse lot: a young gay man who is shell-shocked not by the war itself but by his imprisonment for something to do with the neighbor boy, a lesbian who finds her inner strength as an ambulance worker during the war but who is rudderless afterwards, a woman who is trying to come to terms with being in love with a married man who clearly isn’t going to leave his wife, and several more. Their stories are compelling individually, and deftly braided together. The juggled timeline allows the audience to understand ramifications and repercussions the characters themselves cannot yet see. The acting is uniformly excellent. Definitely a MUST SEE.

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