By Joanna Wagner
LGBT Perspectives TV & Movie Critic
SAN FRANCISCO — When Night Is Falling is a 1995 film from Canada featuring the single most erotic piece of film I’ve ever seen, wrapped in a story of love, sacrifice and the hard choices we make in life. What would you risk to follow your heart?
Camille (Pascale Bussières) is a professor of mythology at a small Christian college somewhere in Canada. In her mid-twenties and the daughter of a pastor, Camille has little experience with the world outside of the conservative Christian community where she has lived her entire life.
Camille’s boyfriend Martin (Henry Czerny), a theology professor, is pressing her to marry him. She has affection for him and he professes love for her, but she pulls back when he presses her to marry him as much for career advancement as love. He proves to be a domineering and manipulative man.
With the death of her beloved dog, Bob, a course of events begins that will change her life forever. Camille is sad and vulnerable in a laundromat. Another young woman, Petra, seeing her softly weeping approaches and offers her comfort. Touched by her kindness, Camille and Petra connect. The clothes are finished and as they prepare to part, Petra switches laundry bags and includes one of her cards, ensuring another meeting between the two women.
Petra is a circus performer and the antithesis of Camille in the way she lives her life. She feels herself drawn to Petra and her free, exciting manner of living. Petra sets in motion a chain of events that will shake Camille to her foundation and change her life forever. The dance of their courtship is lovely; anything that features a trapeze is bound to be interesting to watch.
There is a another small but important sub-plot to the story. This one involves Tim (Don McKeller), who is the owner of the circus, and his partner Tory (Tracy Wright), who is the business manager. This is a small European-style circus featuring performances and acrobatics, very unlike the Greatest Show on Earth. It’s struggling and at one point seems in danger of folding. It sets in motion a series of events that can best be described as trading places
The writers and producers did something not often seen in coming-out stories. Not all the religious people are portrayed as being harsh and unfeeling. The head of the college at one point says that the church has been remiss in the way they have handled “you people.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement of LGBT people, but much better than the “You’ll burn in hell” talk we usually get from conservative Christian clergymen.
When Night Is Falling comes with a well-written script. I really liked the subtlety of the courtship. Petra has very good gaydar when she chooses Camille. Had she known much about her she may never have pursued, but as Camille says at one point: “We met quite randomly”.
All in all, it’s a well-made movie. If I have any complaint it’s that the ending is a little contrived, but one of the things I love about LGBT films is they don’t come with huge budgets and revenue expectations. There’s little in the way of effects but a lot in the scripts and acting, the stuff that creates real drama.
Watch this movie with a loved one some evening When Night Is Falling. I think it’s a story you will thoroughly enjoy.
Available from Wolf Video $3.99 US