In “Helle Nächte” (Bright Nights), Director Thomas Arslan made tangible to me the extent to which father Michael hurt his son Louis through his absence – and how irreversible this is.
At 10.30 am I step out of the Berlinale Palast into the cold morning weather, stunned and shaken at the same time.
Michael has lived in Berlin for years, but he has never lost his strong Austrian dialect. He expresses his grief at the death of his father by disparaging his partner: “You look ugly when you take offence.”
It takes me a long time to give the chief character another chance – the same amount of time it takes him to establish a type of closeness with his son. But 60 minutes in, the seemingly endless shot of a foggy mountain trail draws me into the spell of the story.
Photo: © Schramm Film / Marco Krüger
The father confesses, repents. He loved the boy’s mother, but deceived her for so long that she had one day had enough. He did not see his son grow up.
Louis runs away and disappears into the Norwegian mountain landscape which, due to its great isolation, is not entirely safe. After a long search, his father finds him; Louis attempts to flee. In the final minutes of the film, there is finally an awkward father-son embrace, in the middle of the barren landscape. Tears ran over both my cheeks for several minutes.
The introverted form of the Berlin School and their long shots captivated and affected me.