When Slovenian director Metod Pevec came onstage to present his new movie ”Good Night, Missy” (”Lahko noc, gospodicna”), he declared that Slovenian film critics tend to read his movies as feminist, and to perceive him as an artist who understands women. This is utterly wrong, he insisted. But it is easy to interpret his films in this way, because they tend to feature strong women protagonists who are dealing with some kind of struggle. ”Good Night, Missy” is not an exception to this rule, yet what really interests Pevec is not a woman herself, but her relationship with all of the characters that surround her. So we can say that, in a sense, none of his movies are (just) about a woman: they are more about the characters as a whole.
Hana (Polona Juh) is an interior designer whose husband Samo (Jernej Šugman) is an architect; with their young daughter Anja, they have a busy, successful and happy upper-class life. But when Hana finds out that Samo is cheating on her, her fabled world starts to fall apart. She packs her stuff and goes to her mother, posing questions about what society expects from her and what she expects from society. In the end, the most important question is: what does she expect from herself? What matters to her, after all – her husband, her marriage, her daughter, life, money, car, or just her own self-respect?
We have seen lots of movies with themes like this, but Pevec manages to keep us interested in the narrative. Why is this? First of all, the script is extremely well-written. The characters are not merely figures to push the story forward; they are craftily calibrated and as fully realized as they can be in a movie. The dialogue flows freely in a dramaturgical sense, while communicating misunderstandings between the characters. If we combine this with a magnificent cast, the result may not be surprising, but Pevec’s real magic is seen in an unexpected counterpoint to this realistic story. Alongside the “real“ story, we follow an animated fable which begins as a bedtime tale, but then takes on a life of its own. In many ways it parallels the “real“ story, because it tells us about a bear who is trying hard to reach his love; with circumstances set against him, he keeps on struggling.
We really have to applaud the actors, especially Polona Juh and Jan Cvitkovic (playing Hana’s love from her college days). As director of photography, Sven Pepeonik does a marvelous job balancing poignant shots of the troubled and sometimes devastated Hana with a discreet, subtle approach to her story. With all this plus technically well-made animation and a consistently evocative soundtrack, ”Good Night, Missy” is an extraordinarily touching but nevertheless original movie about peace, love and misunderstanding.
Edited by Lesley Chow
© FIPRESCI 2012