PARIS BY NIGHT(Film Four/Cineplex Odeon, 1988)—Political melodrama/ thriller. Director: David Hare; Producers: Edward Pressman and Patrick Cassavetti; Script: David Hare; Cinematography: Roger Pratt; Music: Georges Delerue; Cast: Charlotte Rampling (Clara Paige), Michael Gambon (Gerald Paige), Iain Glen (Wallace Sharp), Robert Hardy (Adam Gillvray), Jane Asher (Pauline), Andrew Ray (Michael Swanson), Niamh Cusack (Jenny Swanton), Linda Bassett (Janet Swanton), and Robert Flemying (Jack Sidmouth).
Celebrated British playwright David Hare wrote and directed this subversive political thriller that works on many levels—as a straight thriller concerned with Clara Paige's attempts to evade detection after killing a former business associate in Paris and also as an effective metaphor for the changing social, economic, and especially moral climate in Britain in the late 1980s. In this regard, Clara is invested with sufficient recognizable traits, notably her emphasis on self-discipline and accountability, to provide a link to the uncompromising characteristics celebrated in the early Margaret Thatcher years. Yet, the film is much more than a reductionist, crude social parable and takes the viewer on an emotional ride, beginning with a problematic presentation of Clara, who, at times, is invested with a degree of sympathy and audience empathy as she faces a potential blackmailer. This initial presentation only makes the final section of the film even more effective as Clara, metaphorically, removes her mask to reveal a self-interested, pragmatic, and hypocritical woman who publicly supports traditional values while repudiating them through her actions. Ultimately, she represents the dark side of entrepreneurial capitalism, the epitome of self-interested individualism.
Clara is a politically successful Conservative member of the European parliament, with a less successful marriage to aging British politician Gerald Paige. The failure of the marriage does not unduly concern Clara, whose political star is on the rise. The only cloud on her horizon is the repeated calls from a former business associate, Michael Swanson and, fearing blackmail, she has him removed