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film review

Noée Abita, left, and Charlotte Gainsbourg.TIFF

  • The Passengers of the Night
  • Directed by Mikhaël Hers
  • Written by Mikhaël Hers, Maud Ameline and Mariette Désert
  • Starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Emmanuelle Béart and Noée Abita
  • Classification N/A; 111 minutes
  • Opens in select theatres July 1, including the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto

Critic’s Pick


Abita and Quito Rayon-Richter.TIFF

Cinema may have told us that life moves pretty fast, but it is director Mikhaël Hers who so beautifully demonstrates it in The Passengers of the Night, a nuanced yet spectacular look at how what seems mundane never actually is. Set in Paris over the 1980s, the film follows the newly single Elisabeth (Charlotte Gainsburg) and her two teens as they grow, change and challenge, especially after welcoming Talulah (a complicated 18 year old, played magnetically by Noée Abita), briefly into their lives.

But surprisingly, it’s not the plot that makes Passengers so affecting. Instead, it’s how the film emphasizes the way magic emerges from day-to-day lives, and that our most defining moments often come from what we once considered ordinary.

Through a warm, cozy aesthetic and seamless transitions from one year to the next, Hers makes it easy to fall in love with Elisabeth and her family (genetic and chosen). But then he goes a step further and makes it impossible not to fall in love with our own lives, no matter how quiet and inconsequential they may seem.

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