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In the history of film, there has never been a more appropriate metaphor for inspiring a love story with a volcano than this indie film. 2 Nights Till Morning (original title: 2 yötä aamuun), which despite the presence of an erupting mountain, is not an action movie. Instead, it is a gentle, conversational experience about the chasms and bridges that define us, a modern tale of love that, like the word it inspires, flawed and hopeful. All without one shot of flowing lava.
Take for example a long moment in an elevator near the start of 2 Nights Till Morning where a young man and woman, whom have only met hours before, stand in silence as the car takes them up. She is Caroline (Marie-Josée Croze), a 40-ish French architect who meets Jaakko (Mikko Nousiainen), a Finnish (English-speaking) DJ in a bar in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. They are attracted at once and spend the evening together drinking and trying sometimes to talk, though they are mostly silent, as in the elevator. Passions are rising.
They longingly stare at each other, clearly wanting to be closer but seem unable to find ways to say so, and it is crucial. When they move from the elevator to his suite they linger about the room in more silence, drawing closer before he finally, softly, assures her, “It’s okay.” They kiss. It then cuts to the morning and they are naked in bed. But what has happened? She sneaks out of the bedroom and reveals through a phone call that she is actually fluent in English, despite her charade all last evening. We learn too that she undressed the night before but fell asleep, and that he remained a gentleman. But there is friction and awkwardness and she parts from him with a hint of embarrassment and even a little anger at the sudden uncomfortableness. She says goodbye and that would seem the end of it. But a fragile connection lingers.
What they don’t know is that overnight the eruptions at Eyjafjallajökull (a very real event) and the smothering ash cloud it created have shut down the airport. Since she’s checked out, she has no room. He however, does. Seeing her stranded in the lobby, he offers her a place to wait it out, she reluctantly agrees. Now free of the meet/cute, talk shifts and they explore their real selves, for better or worse.
Directed by Mikko Kuparinen, this mixed language drama is a patient film, a contemporary examination of a number of topical themes presented with great intelligence, never taking advantage of the characters nor treating its audience with disrespect. It knows we live in a world nearly inescapable of technology and both its characters are of course, by the nature of their passions and their careers wholly immersed in it. Caroline especially is in constant connection with someone on one of her devices. Or at least trying to be.
Nature change that, the very Earth itself making love a possibility. As the ash cloud forces them to stay put and eventually shutters the airwaves and lose Wi-Fi, the two are left with face-to-face communication and what they learn and share both attracts and repels, as is expected. We see that real words spoken with real intent have weight, and the two find their way around the effects of these feelings all while impending flights will soon separate them. The dance with and among these words are what makes the journey so worthwhile.
There’s no denying the influence of Richard Linklater here, with his “Before” series given a nod or homaged on several occasions. And like the stars of those three films, both Croze and Nousiainen are equally engaging and highly naturalistic in a film that is refreshingly adult in its approach and themes. A quiet, but emotionally connective experience, 2 Nights Till Morning is a beautiful little film with as much to say in silence as it does with a single word. Seek this out.
Director: Mikko Kuparinen
Writer: Mikko Kuparinen
Stars: Marie-Josée Croze, Arly Jover, Gabija Siurbyte