‘A Thousand Times Good Night’ Review

By Eli Ralston

After three different attempts to try and see A Thousand Times Good NightI was finally able to get a ticket to the final sold out showing at the Heartland Film Festival, and it was well worth the wait.

     A Thousand Times Good Night follows the story of Rebecca (Juliette Binoche), a conflict photographer who puts herself in very dangerous situations in order to get great shots to show to the world. After being caught in an explosion and sent to the hospital, she tries to reconcile how dangerous her work is with her husband, Marcus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and her two daughters as they live in constant fear of their mother being killed out in the field. Most other films wouldn’t be able to keep up the interest with such an adrenaline-filled beginning and then switching to domestic life, but director Erik Poppe pulls it off to make a powerful and compelling film.

What really takes A Thousand Times Good Night from being just an average film to a great film is the stellar performance by Binoche, who  brings to life a woman who is a person of conscience and is being divided between her family, and knows that her work makes a difference, but also a woman who is angered and horrified by the awful things she has seen. You can even see this sense of sorrow just by her smile, showing someone who can’t forget the horrors she has seen. Its amazing to see Binoche convey all of these emotions just in one performance.

The rest of the cast also gives powerful performances, especially Lauryn Canny as Rebecca’s daughter, Steph, who has to go through figuring out how important her mother’s job is. Coster-Waldau does a respectable job as the husband who can’t take any more of his wife’s profession, but his character just isn’t given enough motivation on screen for us to really understand how he is feeling. This caused me to question his motivations at times.

     The story itself is very gripping, thanks in part to Binoche’s performance, and made me personally try to select a side as to whether Rebecca should stick with her work or reconcile with her family. I found myself siding with her work because, at times, I felt like the family’s motivations were not explained enough, especially Marcus’s. But Steph’s motivations are truly fascinating and flushed out as we see her finally realize that her mother’s works is truly important to the world. Although the majority of the film does a great job of showcasing her struggle, the end of the film doesn’t give you a set decision and seems to just end. There is only a hint of the possibility of an answer.

The cinematography of the film is stellar, using the gorgeous Irish landscape for the majority of the film and creating some truly beautiful shots. But some of the best shots come from the gritty points of the movie where we see Rebecca in the thick of her work in a war zone. There are a few shots that are transitions that didn’t quite make sense to me, but they do add to the mental state that Rebecca is going through.

All in all, A Thousand Times Goodnight is a gripping and thought-provoking film and raises the question that if your work is important to the world, should you continue with that work even if your family won’t be there when you return. This is mainly accomplished by Juliette Binoche’s stellar performance that gives the film heart and will fully invest the viewer. Although it suffers from sometimes questionable motivations and an abrupt ending, A Thousand Times Goodnight is still a fantastic film that is worth the watch.

Verdict: Great, Although it suffers from sometimes questionable motivations and an abrupt ending, A Thousand Times Goodnight is still a stellar film that is worth the watch.
Positives: Award worthy performance from Juliette Binoche, surprisingly moving performance from Lauryn Canny, gorgeous cinematography, gripping story.
Negatives: Questionable motivations from the husband, abrupt ending.