Discussions of cinema and dreams often revert to psychoanalysis and linguistics. Sophie Goyette’s charming feature debut Still Night, Still Light does not altogether avoid discussions on such terms. Nonetheless, dreams here represent pivotal elements for the advancement of narrative as well as excuses to shift narrative focus from character to character as it progresses. They are employed very organically. There are no flashy dream sequences. On the other hand, there are moments of solitude or conversations during which characters ponder upon their own or each other’s dreams and channel the emotions they evoke into important decisions.
Eliane (Eliane Préfontaine, who also wrote the music of the film), a young Canadian woman frustrated by her own stalemate situation and general lack of direction, uses a dream to start life anew in a faraway country. Romes (Gerardo Trejoluna), her Mexican employer, discusses a dream he had with his elderly father, who coldly retorts that he himself no longer dreams. In this case, his father’s inability to dream represents his inability to see a life beyond that of present resentment.
Likewise, interpretation of dreams may be affected by outside factors, such as language. Lacan often discussed the lacks of communication and the impossibility of representing emotion through language. The same can be said about dreams. A further difficulty arises when dreams are discussed between two people – in this case Eliane and Romes – who must overcome a language barrier. The particular scene in Still Night, Still Light in which they talk about dreams takes place on a lake, with their backs facing the camera. This adds separation between the characters and the viewer, and suggests that everyone is entitled to interpret other people’s dreams in their very own way.
The message of the film is mostly positive: time equals change. The factors that may encourage change in our lives are all around us, but may also come from within us – from our subconscious, represented here in the form of dreams. Goyette’s directorial style fully endorses this viewpoint in a plethora of time-images: economy of storytelling, still camerawork, lengthy shots, and an often sublime landscape. The contemplative nature of the movie almost makes us forget that its story takes place in different countries of the world. This too formally juxtaposes the idea of “dream as journey.”
Still Night, Still Light is never banal or predictable, but certainly realistic and somewhat empowering. As a woman says at the start of the film: “Life is short, we have to keep dreaming.” – ★★★★★
MES NUITS FERONT ÉCHO || 2017., Canada || Drama || Directed by – Sophie Goyette / Written by – Sophie Goyette / Produced by – Sophie Goyette / Cinematography by – Léna Mill-Reulliard / Edited by – Sophie Goyette / Music by – Eliane Préfontaine / Starring – Eliane Préfontaine, Gerardo Trejoluna, Felipe Casanova / Running time: 98 mins.