This first feature from German illustrator Xaver Böhm, which premiered at this year’s Berlinale, shows promise. It follows Juri (Noah Saavedra), a young musician who is afraid of dying and who one night meets a gaunt, dark figure (Marko Mandić) who claims to be Death himself. Thus starts a Faustian night out in Berlin that features Korean herbalists, Russian roulette and Nina, a manic pixie peep-show performer (Vanessa Loibi).
O Beautiful Night doesn’t have much of interest to say as a parable about the nature of love and life, and you get the distinct impression that Böhm and co-writer Ariana Berndi backed themselves into a corner towards the end, not knowing how to finish the story in a satisfying way that doesn’t gauchely evoke the over-earnest “love over death” musings of a lovelorn teenager. Still, there’s never a dull moment and plenty to enjoy, chiefly the atmospheric colour schemes that directly reference Baroque paintings and Dutch floral compositions, as well as a moody score that hits the right notes. The film’s strange verve, style and shot composition make Böhm a talent to keep an eye on. Shame about that ending though.
O Beautiful Night | Directed by Xaver Böhm (Germany, 2019), with Marko Mandić, Noah Saavedra, Vanessa Loibi. Starts June 20.
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