A somewhat forgotten director of six thrillers, Jacques Bral was above all the author ofExterior, night, a cult film for those between 15 and 25 years old in 1980. Also a painter, he died on January 17, 2021. He was 72 years old.
Before becoming a filmmaker, Jacques Bral had been a painter. Born in Tehran, he had even started exhibiting and illustrating books there, before coming to Paris in 1966 to study architecture at the Beaux-Arts.
After a few short films and two or three features, in 1978 he founded the production company “Les Films Noirs” with Jean-Paul Leca and Julien Lévi who will also become his co-writers. They meet success in 1980 with Exterior, night, with, for actors, André Dussollier, Gérard Lanvin and Christine Boisson. The film won the Perspectives of French Cinema in Cannes and a Bronze Leopard in Locarno.
Paris by night
For those who saw it when it came out, Exterior, night has lost none of its glow. We find, without nostalgia, this glauquissime urban atmosphere, typical of the end of the years of the end of the 70s, with a pale Paris by night, whose lampposts gave off a yellowish light (magnificent work by op conductor Pierre-William Glenn). At the time, a whiny and exhibitionist saxophone interfered in all the soundtracks, and he is there too, with violins to cry by Karl-Heinz Schäfer and a bandoneon which reminds us that France had welcomed in those years. South American political refugees.
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Jules and Jim from the 1980s
Exterior, night, sort of Jules and Jim 1980, marks the meeting of three actors from three different worlds: Dussollier (the Conservatory, the text, the auteur cinema), Lanvin (the café-theater, the physique, the comedies of Lautner) , and then an absolute beginner (we had seen her in Emmanuelle by Just Jaeckin, six years earlier).
Christine Boisson, androgynous and free, is a little sister of Louise Brooks, Jeanne Moreau, Maria Schneider and Juliet Berto – with a spot in the eye that bothers so much – which does not escape Michelangelo Antonioni, who l ‘engages to play in the bitter and sublime Identification of a woman, two years later. Drink electrifies the film, infuses it with a romantic and cloudy eroticism which also upsets the playing habits of the two fanatics she has in front of her.
The two young men have not grown up, have not recovered from May 68. Boisson-Cora arrives in their lives and it is a blow to their hearts and their sex. Cora is a rebellious woman, one of the most beautiful portraits of a woman that the cinema has offered us in those years, with Wanda the Barbara Loden, A woman under the influence from Cassavetes …
Subsequently, Jacques Bral never found the grace ofExterior, night, even if, in 1984, his adaptation of Polar, by Manchette, with Jean-François Balmer, is quite estimable. Follow Bad boy (1993), Spring in Paris (2006) and Black suits you so well (2012).
Bral also produces Without hope of return (1989) by Samuel Fuller and continued to paint and exhibit until the end of his life.
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