As Blue Night opens, Vivienne (Sarah Jessica Parker) is being told she has a brain tumor that could only give her 14 months left to live with a surgery. Her doctor lists every aspect of her life that could be affected by the tumor and Vivienne seems questionably calm until she is told her musical ability will be compromised. She is a singer, on the cusp of releasing her ninth album and going on tour and takes this news the hardest. We can see a glimpse of her heart breaking.
What’s next, Vivienne is unclear. She rather aimlessly strolls through Manhattan, avoiding calls from her pesky mother (Jacqueline Bisset), who is waiting in her daughter’s apartment for her to come home. Vivienne would rather be anywhere else, processing her diagnosis.
“…seems questionably calm until she is told her musical ability will be compromised.”
Along her journey through the day, she stops by a rehearsal with her band (Common and Taylor Kinney play the closest members to her), goes dress shopping and strikes up a bumpy relationship with a recurring Lyft driver. Vivienne doesn’t say too much through her day, simply trying to soak in the news she just received. In many ways, if she stays alone with the information, maybe it isn’t real. Maybe avoiding telling those in her life wouldn’t make the news as tragic as it really is.
Blue Night comes from documentary filmmaker Fabien Constant, making his feature debut, and appears to be interested in creating a swoony melodrama over anything truly substantive. He captures New York vibrantly, including the busy spirit of the city. He shoots a lot of conversations, particularly when characters are on the phone, in extreme close-ups, which feel frantically captured more than anything else.
“He captures New York vibrantly, including its busy spirit…”
Sadly, we are presented with a character who received life-altering news but Blue Night doesn’t do much with the story. Vivienne is happy living in her own world, not factoring those in around her, who will be affected by her news. One of the more interesting aspects of the movie is showing Vivienne feel closest with the Lyft driver, over her own family. If the movie could have dug a little deeper into why she feels so removed from those closest to her, Blue Night would have been a more fascinating drama.
Blue Night plods along for 96 Minutes, creating a surface-level exploration of its character’s life. She runs into an old friend (Renée Zellweger) in the third act, who adds a much-needed spark into the movie. Unfortunately, her role is too little, too late.
Blue Night (2018) Directed by Fabien Constant. Written Laura Eason. Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Common, Taylor Kinney, Jacqueline Bisset and Renee Zellweger. Blue Night screened at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.