Return To Chantal Akerman’s Cinematic Elegy “Night and Day” – The Existentially Spiritual Femininity And The
Abandonment Of Angels

Is the heroine of the film Julie (Guilaine Londez) waiting now for a friend or, conversely enjoying a moment of break from people? This ambiguity in her will sustain itself to the very end of the film.

Julie and Jack (Thomas Langmann) are lucky with each other not only because they are in love but because they love to spend time together. In their case it means to accumulate their emotional and cognitive power.

Julie and Jack love to share with one another the world – not so much the objective – visible world which is possible to touch and pleasant to glue to with one’s eyes. They rather don’t like to lend themselves to the noise and chaos. They love to exchange with one another their own and others’ thoughts and verbal and visual images. In other words, they love sharing with each other their internal “events”, understanding of their feelings.

Sometimes they liked just to sit together and be something like blissfully lost – not to think of anything and enjoy some kind of emptiness together – two bodies dissolved in non-being.

After making love they could feel that blissful togetherness they habitually enjoy so much cannot be given forever, and then they could sense that even this eclipse of happiness can be just its another side, its echo or its twin.

Joseph (Francois Negret), like Jack, is a taxi-driver – as a matter of fact he drives the same car, only Jack does it during night while Joseph by days. One day when Julie was meeting Jack in the morning he introduced her to Joseph who was just starting his working day.

When during the week Jack returned home in the mornings after night work, Julie who also didn’t sleep during the night (she usually just walked the Parisian streets and squares) fell asleep with him on equal. They always shared with one another their insomnia, sleepiness or wakening up.

Jack and Joseph unexpectedly became for Julie’s twin brothers – two angels, always melancholic because they both were doomed to disappear. Masculinity (not as power, but as isolation from immortality of femininity) is mortal. While women’s bodies are also mortal, like men’s, femininity is eternal. Masculinity in spite of all its orgasmic and ejaculatory excitements and fanfares is doomed. Woman’s eggs are not only part of female physiology, but of her soul, while men’s spermatozoids are outsiders to human soul and they act in secrecy.

Uniqueness of Jack and Joseph was that they, as if, knew that they are doomed and lived with this truth inside. For Julie they were radically different from all other young men – they lived burdened by their intuition about their radical mortality of being outsiders of or peripheral to the very chain of procreation, just capable of reproduction. It’s from here their melancholy, their touching and irrecoverable sadness. It’s for this reason of Julie’s feminine power, her love for them both was irresistible for her.

Julie’s love was trying to emotionally and physically nurture them with her unconditional and inexhaustible power of carrier of procreation – a function she shares with the Creator Himself. The more she loved Jack – the more she loved Joseph. Joseph’s presence opened her eyes to the reason she loves Jack, and her love for Jack reinforced her to love Joseph. They were irresistible for Julie’s unlimited femininity. Poor men invent power games, trying to out-strength, out-power and outsmart one another. They invent hate, weapons to be able to fight one another. They invent money and wealth to outdo each other. They are jealous and envious towards one another. They are so miserable, so weak in front of their destiny. And it’s her mission – the mission of her femininity to help them, until she is able.

Whose hand has a hold of Julie’s hair? She couldn’t be sure herself. It’s not important at all – who is embracing Julia, Jack or Joseph. Embracing her is embrace by both of them.

Jack’s torso turned towards his destiny, that Julie sees from behind, is the torso of Joseph, both are belonging to her sad knights of masculinity.

Julie turns towards the summer in Paris.

Something strange was taking place inside Julie’s soul, something she herself couldn’t grasp.

Where is Julie going? Away from the masculine mortality – from men being touched by the feeling of being doomed, in spite of their touching appeal? Men’s love is as discrete as light consisting of pieces of itself. Does she want to continue serving immortality itself – sharing her femininity with the ones who are painfully doomed? Is she now in a process of choosing an abrupt and wholesome revolution in human relationships? And how to know what could be the content of such a revolution?

Chantal Akerman

Chantal Akerman (1950-2015)