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Night Sun (Il Sole Anche Di Notte) Review

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A young nobleman - Baron Sergio Giuramondo - discovers that his bride-to-be was the king's mistress and leaves Naples in disgust to become a monk. But his quest for perfect solitude is constantly interrupted by visitors hearing rumours that Sergio possesses miraculous powers, and by women who bet each other that they can successfully seduce him...

★★★★★

The theme here is intriguing enough: Man searches the world for fulfillment, and finds none. Man turns to clergy for enlightenment, but finds the institution banal. Realising his aloneness in the fractured cosmos, Man becomes a hermit to seek truth in the self, only to confront there the atomic source of the world's imperfection. Heady stuff if you're up for it, in which case you may have read the Tolstoy book on which Night Sun is based. Never mind great books, though, for no matter how high-minded, this is, unfortunately, nowhere near a great film.

Night Sun's troubles sprout right at the start: mumbling in roughly-dubbed Italian and wearing an expression dangling between indifference and understandable why-did-they-cast-me confusion, Julian Sands stumbles onto an atmosphereless period set as Sergio, an 18th century Naples nobleman. Life is bland until Sergio goes into a pout on the eve of his marriage to Christine (Italian-fluent Kinski) when she tells him she used to bonk their beloved King. Our humourless, passionless hero finds this news so crushingly awful that he has no choice but to run and join a monastery.

Sergio is still not satisfied, although we know not why, since between all the sad faces and sparse talk there are no clues whatsoever as to his motives or reflections. For whatever reason, though, our stonefaced friend goes to live in a dreary, remote outhouse where he gets even more dour and boring while practising absurd self-denial to test his devotion to some presumably holy cause. Cue lonely scenes in the mountains, Sergio staring in pained silence, punctuated by the odd dubbed phrase or bad post-production wind-in-the-trees sound.

Around the time the peasants decide Sergio is a messiah and he crumbles after being seduced by a randy farmgirl, our cup has surely runneth over with this barbituate brew of heavy-handed morality and unironic logic. When we finally get to see the back of Sergio, the Universe remains a mystery, life is still too short, and two precious hours have been squandered puzzling over this ill-conceived and utterly joyless depiction of it all.

Despite the intentions of the filmmakers the universe remains a mystery, life is still too short, and two precious hours have been squandered puzzling over this ill-conceived and utterly joyless depiction of it all.