When the head doesn't quite agree

June 21, 1995

When Night is Falling
Directed by Patricia Rozema
Reviewed by Jen Crothers

When Night Is Falling is a beautiful love story set against a background of picturesque Toronto. Camille is a Christian academic who is in love with Martin, a fellow theologian at the local Calvinist College.

Together they are offered the chaplaincy of the college, but they must marry first. However, Camille finds herself falling in love with Petra, a free-spirited performer in an avant-garde circus.

At first Camille is stuffy, comfortable in her mapped out future of religion and academia. But her wild side is drawn out by Petra with her exciting, surreal lifestyle. Eventually Camille is forced to make choices: between the love Martin feels for her and the desire she feels for Petra; between the security of her career in the church and the topsy-turvy world of adventure led by Petra.

Night makes some interesting points about homosexuality, the church and desire. Writer/director Patricia Rozema (I Hear The Mermaids Singing) doesn't believe people are either straight or gay: "There's a tremendous desire to simplify on this issue, but I think it's important to be humbly baffled".

The film is certainly not about Camille "turning into a lesbian"; it's not a cliched "coming out of the closet" film. It is more about taking risks and doing what you feel your heart is telling you to do even when your head doesn't quite agree.

Rozema brings out the tragedy of the church's position on gays and lesbians in the line, "Every holy book of every major religion is opposed to homosexuality".

While the church does emerge looking extremely conservative and old fashioned, it is shown to have a human side. Reverend De Boer is the nasty character of the film, but even he attempts to relate to Camille's situation. In an ironic twist, according to De Boer, Camille becomes one of the "people like you". Earlier she had asked Petra, "don't people like you have (non-sexual) friends?".

When Night Is Falling is about strong women who act on their desires. It is a tender, romantic and erotic film which is extremely enjoyable to watch and highly recommended.

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