A Thousand Times Goodnight: Movie Review
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Director: Erik Poppe
Mixing melodrama with some visceral war imagery, A Thousand Times Goodnight stars Juliette Binoche as top photojournalist Rebecca whose life-long obsession is challenged by her job and her home-life.
As the film starts, Poppe throws Rebecca deep into the belly of the beast as she's embedded with a group of women in Kabul, one of whose number is about to martyr themselves for the cause. Persuading the women to take her along with them, Rebecca's suddenly hit with the true horror of what's about to transpire in the packed market place and panics, setting an explosive situation in motion.
Recovering at home, she suddenly finds her once-accepting husband Marcus (Game of Thrones' Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) isn't so keen for her to risk her life for her job, with a young family needing their mother.
But Rebecca's driven by the passion she feels for the subject, and finding her daughter's inherited some of that, soon faces an awful choice.
Blending autobiographical elements from his time as a photographer and journo, Poppe's pulled together some potent imagery in A Thousand Times Goodnight; none more so than the opening sequence in Kabul (which is nowhere near matched elsewhere in the film).
Once the dust settles on a truly horrifically gripping situation, Poppe settles more for a fraught domestic scene and a debate around the ethics and morals of those capturing war - and it's here that the film starts to lose some of its original trappings and becomes more a drama of consequence and some eloquence, thanks in large part to Binoche's earnest turn as Rebecca.
In fact, it's no small miracle that Binoche carries the banal domestic trappings and unsurprising homestead arguments with her performance; there are very real signs that Rebecca's inner conflict and initial detached nature are at war; they simmer away, raging and thanks to an understated turn, Binoche convinces.
Which is perhaps just as well, as A Thousand Times Goodnight really has nowhere original to go once the carnage and surprise of the opening has settled. It's a shame that the workmanlike pace keeps the predictable story rattling on but fails to really deliver an emotional gut punch which is called for.
Solid support come from Coster-Waldau and Lauryn Canny as the daughter, but A Thousand Times Goodnight is Binoche's film, first and foremost. It's just a shame that nothing really lives up to its bravura and tense opening.