OK, let’s talk about the worst thing about At Night first. The subtitles are horrible. They’re half to two-thirds the size of what I see in most films, and they’re white with minimal border on an often light background, so they’re damn near unreadable. And it matters, because this is a long “short” (about forty minutes), and a talky one. So it’s very rough going.
That’s a shame, because aside from the fact that I spent the whole film watching the bottom of the screen and hoping for enough of a background change to catch at least most of what was said, I think it’s actually pretty good.
The film takes place in a hospital ward for cancer patients. Three young women bond as they share the experience of dying.
I like serious films that address subjects that actually matter, and this certainly falls into that category. It’s still possible for a film like that to lose me if it’s poorly made, presented in an especially boring manner, unconvincing in how its characters express emotion, etc., but at the very least it has a substantial head start.
I suppose some viewers could see At Night as trite or clichéd or just too depressing, but I thought it handled its sensitive subject matter in an interesting and dignified way. Cancer means dealing with fear, decisions over risky surgery options, suicidal urges, deciding how much to rely on pain and anxiety medication, tense relations with family, etc. This film gives us plenty to think about in its treatment of these issues. I just wish I could have read what the characters were saying.