The dark side of the pleasure principle is revealed in the French whodunnit

One To Another (chacun Sa Nuit)

on June 29, 2007 by John P. McCarthy
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There's something to be said for prudishness. The incestuous siblings at the center of this erotic mystery-drama might have avoided significant pain had they shown even a little sexual restraint. As it is, immodest Lucie (Lizzie Brochere) goes half-balmy trying to solve the murder of her promiscuous brother Pierre (Arthur Dupont). Based on a true story, Chacun sa nuit (literal translation: To Each, Their Night ) is too French and too ambiguous for any moralizing. But to the dispassionate spectator, Pierre and Lucy are clearly victims of their narcissistic pleasure-seeking, including innocently skinny-dipping and, less innocently, exploring any body within reach. Likewise, the viewer must conclude the movie itself is too absurd for words, despite any superficial thrill derived from watching nubile young adults participate in orgies and act out tableaux from an Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue.

Pierre and Lucie were born a year apart and have identical strawberry birthmarks on their well-shaped loins, which the audience gets ample opportunity to admire along with those of their bisexual playmates Nicolas, Sebastien and Baptiste. When not swapping body fluids and whispered expressions of ennui, the five university students play in a rock band. After Pierre is discovered beaten to death and the police investigation stalls, Lucie becomes a sleuthing slut, doing what she does best to learn who killed Pierre and to keep his licentious and supposedly magnetic spirit alive.

Unfurling in nonlinear fashion, the story takes place in an unidentified mountainous region nicely photographed by co-director Jean-Marc Barr. The movie isn't poorly made, but writer/co-director Pascal Arnold has left out the interesting bits. For one thing, it's hard to differentiate between the male characters, clothed or unclothed. More generally, plausibly coupling eroticism and death in a serious drama—as opposed to in a slasher flick—proves too great a challenge. The point essayed is that motivations for murder can be as inexplicable as sexual desire. The real lesson: Ambiguity can be more frustrating than alluring.
Distributor: Strand
Cast: Lizzie Brochere, Arthur Dupont, Guillaume Bache, Pierre Perrier, Nicolas Nollet, Valerie Mairesse and Karl E. Landler
Directors: Pascal Arnold and Jean-Marc Barr
Screenwriter: Pascal Arnold
Producers: Karina Grandjean, Pascal Arnold and Jean-Marc Barr
Genre: Mystery drama; French-language, subtitled
Rating: Unrated
Running time: 95 min.
Release date: June 29, 2007 NY
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