On a Magical Night review – spotlight on a very Parisian marriage | Comedy films

Maria (Chiara Mastroianni) is middle-aged, middle-class and suffering a midlife crisis in French writer-director Christophe Honoré’s impish, rarefied morality play. When her husband of 20 years discovers her latest extramarital affair, Maria exiles herself in a suite in the Hôtel Lenox Montparnasse, across the street from their apartment – a fitting vantage point from which to reconsider her marriage. There she is visited, A Christmas Carol-style, by the ghosts of her disapproving mother, a coterie of ex-lovers and husband Richard aged 20 (Vincent Lacoste).

The camera frequently adopts a God’s-eye shot, hovering above Maria’s confrontations with her past and implying hindsight as omniscient knowledge. Honoré’s choice to glide from room to room using an aerial perspective also dials up the staginess, allowing him to play with and critique cultural stereotypes about Parisians and their supposedly laissez-faire attitudes to sex and monogamy.

Indeed, Mastroianni, daughter of screen legends Marcello Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve, is a formidable and fiery presence as a woman whose sexual pragmatism is characterised by her partner as “greedy and organised”. Also juicily cast is Benjamin Biolay as “bourgeois filth” present-day Richard, Mastroianni’s real-life ex-husband.

• On a Magical Night is on Curzon Home Cinema

Source: The Guardian

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