Review: A Moonless Night (2014)


Directed by: Germán Tejeira | 78 minutes | comedy, drama | Actors: Roberto Suárez, Daniel Melingo, Marcel Keoroglian, Elisa Gagliano, Adrián Biniez, Horacio Camandule, Verónica Perrotta, Julio Toyos, Willow Vaz

A Uruguayan country town on New Year’s Eve. In a local meeting center, the residents play bingo in anticipation of the artists who will perform this evening: a third-rate comedian, the magician Antonio (with his rabbit) and singer Molgota. The latter two have to make an effort to reach the town. Molgota sets out from prison; the singer has been released especially for this evening. Magician Antonio is stranded on the way at a toll booth on a deserted road. Also on the way to the town is César, a lonely single who is going to eat with his ex-wife, her new husband, some friends and his daughter Lucía this evening.

In the Uruguayan feature film ‘A Moonless Night (2014)’ we follow the three men on this special evening. We see how César has to go to great lengths to win the attention of his daughter, how something beautiful blossoms between the magician and toll collector Laura and how the freed Molgotha ​​celebrates his one day in freedom.

This simultaneously light-footed and melancholic drama has a special structure. Each character is given about twenty consecutive minutes to unfold its episode. Only when we have gotten to know the characters well, a much faster change between the stories begins.

‘A Moonless Night (2014)’ is a film that relies on its humanity and warmth. We see how the endearing César rehearses a late Christmas story to amuse his daughter. We empathize with the lonely magician and the equally lonely tollbooth girl. And we also sympathize with the singer, who has to perform in front of a completely uninterested audience.

The atmosphere is one of nostalgia and cautious optimism. The latter mainly because of the subtle loving rapprochements: between César and his daughter and between Antonio and Laura. The nostalgia can be found in the songs of Molgota and in a ramshackle nocturnal amusement park, which opens its gates especially for César and Lucia on this dark moonless night. A night that sometimes gets even darker due to the frequent power cuts.

In terms of atmosphere, structure and motifs, this Uruguayan drama is somewhat like Carlos Sorin’s ‘Historias Minimas’, but fellow Uruguayans Pablo Stolt and (the late) Juan Pablo Rebella are also never far away. With its eye for detail, convincing characters and hopeful message, ‘A Moonless Night (2014)’ captivates over its entire length. An atmospheric film about love, beauty, melancholy and the eternal question why a magician cannot do without a rabbit.

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