Normalcy vs Risk

1,000 Times Goodnight

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

            1,000 Times Goodnight is further proof that the power of an outstanding actor lies not in skill alone but in some inner resource not easily described. Juliette Binoche is one who manages to make any character compelling with even a minimum of dialogue. This time she is Rebecca, a war zone photographer driven by anger and passion to record the realities of the battlefield. It’s easy to describe the plotline of the film, much harder to describe how she conveys the depth of the emotional conflict between Rebecca’s war coverage and her family’s fear about her safety.
            In an explosive opener, Rebecca, now reporting from Kabul, steps into the middle of the suicide mission of a beautiful young girl and unintentionally becomes a participant rather than an observer. Injured, she returns home to Dublin and faces the anger of her worried husband Marcus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). “Why were you in that place?” Marcus asks, moving quickly to the dread he feels as he lives in a state of constant preparation for that call. The minute we watch Binoche and Coster-Waldau together, we know we will be drawn into the deep emotional struggle between two people involved in far more than just a job vs. family conflict.
            Most of what happens in this story takes place inside the heads of the characters as they say one thing and think another. We listen to one conversation and read their faces for the one that is unfolding inside. Rebecca has returned home to the love of a family that doesn’t understand what she feels. The drama and suffering of the suicide bomber, her role in it, and her need to record it are not feelings she can convey to the husband who loves her and knows that something is forcing her to go back.
            When daughter Steph (Lauryn Canny in a terrific performance) wants to go on a relatively safe mother/daughter assignment in Kenya, the two set off together, a schoolgirl growing into young adulthood who wants to understand her mother and does just that sooner than anyone could have believed.
            When Rebecca closes in on a subject, there is an invasive, almost fierce aspect to her focus. Is it her resentment that normalcy can exist elsewhere when horror is unfolding right there in front of her? She makes clear in her own words why she takes enormous risks to record what she sees, “I want people to choke on their coffee, and see, and feel and react.” She is driven to bring the reality of war to the people still living in normalcy.
            Various kinds of anxiety, suffering, and determination build inside each of these decent people – all for us to consider and translate as we listen to their spoken words. “I’m not good at life – being normal,” Rebecca says at one point as she leaves the family she loves yet again. And then: “There are things inside you that you can do nothing about.”

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Film Title : 1,000 Times Goodnight
Running Time : 1:57
Word Count : 498
Rating : R


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