“All These Sleepless Nights” is a movie directed by a polish up’n’coming new talent Michal Marczak, who is by all means one of the most progressive and interesting directors to follow. At Sundance his latest feature was classified as a documentary (nomination – “best film”, won “best director”). Maneuvering between documental observation and the narrative elements dictated/demanded by fiction, Marczak’s creative vision has resulted in an extraordinary genre hybrid, offering us a vibrant story about three youngsters living out their glory days. The characters are named after their impersonators – non-professional actors Krzysztof, Michal and Eva.
So what exactly are they doing? Partying, picking up girls, drinking, smoking and in between all this chaos – falling in and out of love. That reminds me of a quote: „…et celebrer toujours les amis, le vin, le jour et les fleuves qui dansent.” (and always celebrate friends, wine, day and the rivers that dance.) I cannot speak about the rivers, but everything else Krzysztof, Michal and Eva surely do celebrate. Unapologetically and decadent. They are levitating over the horizons of euphoria. All this is seen from the protagonist’s Krzysztof’s perspective. His voice-over is not a narration in a classical and commonly heard sense. It actually sounds as if he is making notes into his personal diary – impulsive but yet again well-thought through. Truly and deeply he reflects upon the currents.
From time to time Krzysztof mentions statistical numbers which register the amount of time taken from one’s life while performing various everyday actions. It also includes break-up talks and sums up all the hours one spends choosing an outfit. Apparently all this haphazardly heard research data serves as the basis of the protagonist’s passionate will to live his youth at its fullest and not to waste a minute of it. In the streets of Warsaw and at private home parties, in others and deep within himself – everywhere he in seeking out some sort of an authentic feeling. More importantly– Krzysztof isn’t frustrated by the possible temporality of it.
In an interview for Karlovy Vary International film festival Marczak emphasizes that these unslept nights can actually be considered to be a manifestation of coming of age and becoming an adult. The director has tried to structure the film basing the screenplay on his own memories regarding his twenties. These memories are not necessarily lined up in a chronological sequence. All he is left with are impulses, late night conversations, random thoughts, ideas and nevertheless, endless adventures. „The structure of film plays with the time,” passionately, with his eyes sparkling, explains Marczak.
The spectator can strongly relate to the film because, hey, who hasn’t been young. Some psychological and scientific theories (the Reminiscence Bump theory for instance) claim that, even when being old, a person mostly refers to his or hers twenties. Imagine all that huge life experience left behind yet it still adds up to nearly nothing compared to the remembrance of being at the peak of one’s youth.
The film is clean from logical notions. It lacks explanations about how the hell Krzysztof can afford to live all by himself in an apartment with a view on the entire skyline of Warsaw. And what about drugs? They come as rather pricey. There is no mention of their money earning sources. Where are they heading to? It is not neither said, nor needs to be known. The movie never touches the subjects of its heroes past, heritage or family. No one ever mentions their plans for the future. It’s just here and now. Marczak’s initial idea was to make a film about youth. And voilà! He has captured the pure essence of being restless.
Finally in „All These Sleepless Nights” there is a great significance given to a dance. Krzysztof dances to the electric, techno and club music. He moves in various situations – while jumping over the cars in a parking lot, in spite of rain or against the crowd stuck in traffic jams. In an emotional uplift, Krzysztof is few metres above the ground – closer to the stars. However, it is important to note that the main trio are not just a bunch of raging youngsters with substance abuse problems. It’s just that these kids treat their days as an ephemeral matter. Their lives can be compared to a cigarette (which they smoke in chains by the way) – it is one intensely inhaled moment followed by another. „Ten thousand cigarettes. So many breaths so sharply drawn. And of ten thousand cigarettes three hundred days gone up in smoke… a thousand more unfiltered moments,” Krzysztof counts down.
To sum up, „All These Sleepless nights” shows a kaleidoscopically rich magic of insomnia. So what is going to be your nostalgia? Probably your early twenties, when emotions are balancing between one extreme all the way to the other. When prioritizing meant choosing wine over a decent meal. Less planning and more blurry dizziness. When late night talks turned into early morning conversations. All this constitutes making of a memory.
Written by a guest writer Līga Požarska for ÉCU.