A one-night stand between two strangers without a common language takes an unexpected turn when an ash cloud from a volcano prevents all flights from taking off.
This year’s Edinburgh Film Festival landed at an unfortunate time for Up Late At Night Again. This being an even-numbered year, the film overlapped with football’s European Championships and meant that despite having two reviewers invited to be part of the press team at the festival, both were unable to attend most events due to being in France cheering on the likes of Iceland and Belgium. We will return to the festival in 2017 (a fallow year for football tournaments) with full force!
One of the films we did manage to catch was part of EIFF’s Finland season. Each year, the festival focuses on the movie-making of a particular country that perhaps doesn’t get the attention it should. This year was Finland’s turn, and we went along to see the UK premiere of ‘2 Nights Till Morning’ (or ‘2 Yötä Aamuun’ in its native language), with writer and director Mikko Kuparinen in attendance.
The film focuses on the brief relationship between French, middle-aged architect Caroline (Marie-Josee Croze, best known here for small parts in ‘Calvary‘ and ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly‘) and twenty-something, Finnish DJ Jaakko (Mikko Nousiainen, little known outside of Scandinavia). We meet the unlikely couple in a swanky hotel in the rarely-seen-on-film setting of Vilnius, Lithuania. Caroline is designing a new wing in a terminal of the city’s airport and Jaakko is performing a DJ set at the local arena. After a whirlwind evening in which the two become close, the eruption of an Icelandic volcano (remember this from 2010?) means neither can catch their flight and are forced to spend a second night in the hotel, hence the film’s title, and we follow them on meandering walks around the city as they get to know each other better.
If the set-up sounds familiar, that’s because it is. The film leans heavily on Richard Linklater’s ‘Before’ trilogy – English speaking man, French speaking woman, both from different backgrounds, an unfamiliar city location and the camera focusing solely on them (there are other cast members, but 90% of the dialogue is Caroline and Jaakko). What is unfortunate for this film is that Linklater does this so well, writing the script for those films in conjunction with the two major cast members means the conversations are more natural. Kuparinen, the director here, wrote this film himself without particular actors in mind and while the acting is excellent, I simply didn’t believe in their relationship. A particular bugbear of mine was the ‘revelation’ that Caroline is a lesbian in a long-term relationship. We the audience learn this, and are then expected to run with the fact that she would be ‘turned’ by Jaakko.
Despite my hang-ups, I did like the film. In having never been to Vilnius, I was able to go on the same journey of discovery as the characters as they walked through the city, which Kuparinen shoots beautifully. I also enjoyed the ending, which could have easily been formulaic and predictable but took a risk which ultimately pays off, with a final frame that leaves the viewer wanting to know more.
Finland is one of only two European countries where its ‘native-language’ films outsell English-language movies (the other being France). Having dipped a toe into Finnish cinema, I can see why. An intelligent, well-made and largely enjoyable film which deserves to be seen outside its homeland.
Review by Richard Mason
Directed By: Mikko Kuparinen
Starring: Marie-Josee Croze, Arly Jover, Mikko Nousiainen, Andrius Ziurauskus, Sakalas Uzdavinys, Gabija Siurbyte and Linas Mikuta