21 August 2018 | guy-bellinger
A fine blend of humor and seriousness
After viewing Ilan Klipper's first fiction film, one thing is sure: the young director has something to say. A decent budget (he collected only enough money to make a short) was not assigned to him but ideas he does have (in 77 minutes, he elaborates more than many others do in many a lavishly produced bloated epic). One more evidence that in life "the best things are free".
Filmed urgently and feverishly over a period of twelve days (and nights), the poetically titled "The Starry Sky Above Me" (a quotation from Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason") is concerned with Bruno, a fifty-year-old writer who once hit the mark with his first novel but never made it to the second book. For twenty years now, he has lived in solitude, neglecting himself, confusing day and night, writing drafts of novels he never completes. He only occasionally meets a friend or two and his love stories or mere sex plans invariably fail to pan out.
The story opens on a sample of Bruno's "daily life". In the middlle of the night, he is seen alone in his apartment, clad in mere underwear, pacing to and fro, gesticulating, talking to himself, sending one or two provoking messages from his pc, looking for, finding and typing sentences for one or another of his unfinished books, eating and drinking at random before finally sinking off to sleep in the wee hours.
The next night and all the following ones should normally unfurl along similar lines, except that disruption sets in all of a sudden. It is ring at his doorbell at an unwanted time (isn't the afternoon for sleeping ?) that comes tearing up routine's pattern. Dazed and more scantily clad than ever, Bruno opens the door. And guess who is there? Surprise, surprise, it is his parents (with whom he is on bad terms and who hardly ever visit him)! And surprise, surprise, surprise! They are in the company of a young woman not only unknown to him but absolutely charming as well.
The circle being thus broken, the action can really begin and, although within a short running time, it will be lively - to say the least : one unexpected visit after another and complications by the dozen. Scene after scene, one realizes Klipper masters the codes of comedy brilliantly: elements of surprise, misunderstandings, exponential accumulation of characters and other devices are a guarantee of uninterrupted laughs.
Which does not mean there is no substance, on the contrary. Several serious issues are examined in "The Starry Sky" such as conformity vs. nonconformity, tolerance vs. intolerance, sanity vs. insanity. Simply, humor avoids stodginess and boredom.
Wonderfully played by Laurent Poitrenaux, able to express all kinds of feelings and emotions, the film also showcases a few notable talents: Marilyne Canto in a two-faced character role, Michèle Moretti as an all-too convincing abusive mother and Frank Williams as the phoney "good" friend.
Do not miss this delightful cocktail of lightness and seriousness. You will not be disappointed.