On a Magical Night (2019)

French director Christophe Honoré has a way with looking at the trials and tribulations of love and relationships. In Love Songs he dealt with the younger generation. Here, he moves on to middle age and the reckonings that infiltrate any couple over the years.

Deliciously and deliberately theatrical, he serves up a French farce with a chanson splattered soundtrack by the likes of Charles Aznavour. It takes place virtually in two or three rooms – an apartment and a hotel opposite as well as the snow-covered street in between.

Chiara Mastroianni, as Maria, makes the most of a gift of a role as the college lecturer wife who admits to her husband Richard (a bewildered Benjamin Biolay) her indiscretions with a legion of young hunky students whereas he claims to have remained chastely faithful over the years. Honoré plays on this neat role reversal of conventional wisdom.

It’s irrepressibly bright and bubbly (a room crammed with Maria’s suitors is quite a moment) whereas there is perhaps for homegrown audiences an added frisson in the fact that Mastroianni and Biolay were involved romantically in real life.

OK, it’s all as light as a soufflé but Honoré deals with some serious issues about the dark waters of long-term relationships which make the film as affecting as it is amusing.

Richard Mowe, EyeForFilm.co.uk

  • Orig. title: Chambre 212
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Distribution: Charades
  • Print source: Charades
  • Cinematography: Rémy Chevrin
  • Editing: Chantal Hymans
  • Music:
  • Sound: Carlo Thoss
  • Production design: Stéphane Taillasson