Magazine article Screen International

'Blue Night': Tribeca Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Blue Night': Tribeca Review

Article excerpt

Sarah Jessica Parker enlists a starry cast of cameos to try her hand at a serious dramatic role

Blue Night

Dir. Fabien Constant. US. 2018. 96 mins

In Blue Night, Sarah Jessica Parker pivots to take on a huge challenge, playing a singer in a dark dramatic role. It’s ambitious, and she hits some of the right notes, but much of it ends up off-key.

The solemn Blue Night is resolutely humour-free

Parker, who also produced, is the leading novelty in a dream-team cast - Simon Baker, Common, Jaqueline Bisset, Renee Zellweger. Her fans worldwide are sure to give Blue Night a try. Her world-weary expression looking over life’s precipice - in endless close-ups - will make a poster that demands attention.

Blue, in a title that plays on everything from music to the tint of DP Javier Aguirresarobe’s camera, is a word that understates the grave mood of the film’s opening. Visiting her doctor, the veteran singer Vivienne Carala (Parker), is preparing for shows at Birdland in New York. She gets a staggering report. Her career and her life could be at risk. Director Fabien Constant, in his narrative feature debut, finds a momentum in that knowledge that propels the film forward, as Vivienne explores her fate (while never disclosing it) in encounters with friends, family and strangers.

Those encounters are structured episodically, so the other marquee names in the cast each get star-turns with Parker. In between, Vivienne’s personal darkness gets maximum close-up exposure. In Sex and the City, Parker played for laughs with witty apercus on gender politics. The solemn Blue Night is resolutely humour-free.

The script by Laura Eason, structured around 24 hours after Vivienne’s brusque collision with mortality, is barely a string of haikus, as characters stitch together parts of Vivienne’s life, almost all in performances crafted with a cookie cutter. Jacqueline Bisset is an overbearing narcissist of a French mother. Common is a dutiful long-suffering manager. Simon Baker is the frustrated father of Vivienne’s neglected teenaged daughter (Gus Birney), who pouts out her feelings of neglect. …

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