The faux-documentary feels like one long day morphing into one long night.
“All These Sleepless Nights” is a billed as a documentary but from the get-go though, it is hard to see how. It is impossibly cinematic and stirringly intimate. It blurs the line between narrative and nonfiction in a way that feels like a trick or mismarketing, intentional or not. Nonetheless, the third film from young Polish director Michal Marczak is a wistful and dreamy portrait of youth, love, hedonism, and a whole lot of dancing.
The film follows post-relationship Krzysztof Baginski, a Warsaw twenty-something rediscovering a sense of freedom he seems to have lost touch with. With his roommate Michal Huszcza, he roams around the city into the wee hours of the morning, dancing in clubs, dancing on the beach and dancing in the streets. He sprints on top of parked police cars and walks through the subway tunnels. He falls into a brief relationship with Michal’s ex-girlfriend, Eva Lebuef, and briefly falls out of his friendship Michal. There is no arc so to speak, but this does give the film a sense of time and narrative trajectory, of sorts.
… a wistful and dreamy portrait of youth, love, hedonism, and a whole lot of dancing.
But time is rather irrelevant to Krzysztof and his friends. The title of the film should hint at that. “All These Sleepless Nights” feels like one long day morphing into one long night. It seems to take place over months, but it feels like a few days. This is one its biggest strengths. In the same fashion as Malick, Marczak does a beautiful job of making little moments feel transcendent. The dance sequences are particularly wonderful – abstract moves set to an ambient soundtrack, shot in wide frames, with Marczak seeming to dance around the characters himself. He makes the most generic of evenings at the club seem mystic and timeless. Narrative time is a construct in his film; this is also confirmed through Krzysztof’s sparse, but fascinating voiceovers.
But then again,”All These Sleepless Nights” can feel rather meandering because it is just that. Nothing much becomes of Krzysztof; he doesn’t seem to gain much from his experiences. He doesn’t have a particularly dynamic personality that leads to anything especially emotional. The film does droop, but never drags. But, perhaps, that is okay. It’s always in motion but paces itself. And, perhaps, that is what makes the blurry “is it actually a documentary or is it a narrative” line almost moot. What Marczak has made is a quiet, pulsing portrait of the restlessness of not knowing where to go. By the film’s end, it may still be wandering, but at least it is dancing.
“All These Sleepless Nights” is rated R for language and smoking throughout, drug use and some sexuality/graphic nudity. 100 minutes. Opening at the Nuart Theater in Los Angeles today and the IFC Center in NYC on 4/14.
Director Michal Marczak will be doing Q&As on Friday, April 7 and Saturday, April 8 (following the 7:30 pm shows) with intros both nights for the 9:50 pm show.