Review: A Thousand Times Good Night
What comes first: work or family? Rebecca (Juliette Binoche) wants it both ways, but her husband and children are becoming increasingly incapable of living with a woman who constantly puts herself in danger and clearly values her profession more than her own well-being.
Rebecca is a war photographer, and the film opens with an intense sequence where she nearly dies amidst a bombing. Upon arriving home, her husband warns her that he can’t be with her if she continues to do this job, with him and her children always worrying if she will live through it. The film is directed by Erik Poppe, who began similarly as a photographer himself. This is clear because the imagery in the film is beautiful and picturesque. The film is for the most part incredibly slow-moving and uneventful, until about the halfway point, where the drama begins to really kick in and Rebecca makes decisions that further push her family away.
The film proposes an interesting conflict through Rebecca, who clearly loves her family but who feels a responsibility to the importance of her work. Her job is demanding and also requires an extreme detachment-the ability to take photos of tragedy as an immediate response is an incredibly difficult task that only someone who has taken themselves out of the situation could do. It seems that Rebecca has also done this in her real life, causing a disconnect with her family and with her own emotions. Juliette Binoche is wonderful as always, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is great but underused, and the children actors are impressive as well.
A Thousand Times Goodnight is an interesting family drama that also ties in real world issues. At its core, however, it is about the inner conflicts that these grander world events cause for one family. The film is an incredibly slow-burn but it leads up to some climatic moments and poses interesting questions. However, for the most part it’s very dull and doesn’t achieve the emotional response that it seems to try and provoke. The characters don’t feel developed enough, the film feels repetitive, and it’s a rather shallow attempt at this more complex story.