I started this film coming down off an energy drink and with a gin and tonic in hand. I was comfortably sleepy getting ready to watch a subtitled foreign film. Yet, this may have been the most perfect way to watch Bi Gan’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”. As the fever-dream of a film started, I could tell I was in for a god damn journey.
About 30 minutes in I had to go to the IMDB page because of my confusion. A kind reviewer informed me that the film had been cutting back and forth between the present and 20 years prior and I had not realized it. Once I did, it… helped? I don’t know.
I can’t really explain the plot of the film to you. I can gather bits and pieces, but the whole thing is a little muddled. Yet, I’m not sure it really matters. It sounds like a cop out and it sounds pretentious – and maybe it is – but, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” is a mood piece. Frankly, it is far too beautiful and far too incredible a spectacle to behold to worry that much about plot. It is a film about loving someone you should have stopped loving long ago. That is really all you need to know I think.
Every single frame of the film is meticulously crafted to create an experience that is truly dream-like. It is gorgeous. It is grimy. It is awe-inspiring. And that is before you get to the 59-minute unbroken tracking shot. Then, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” enters into another level of spectacle. Reality is thrown out the window in more ways than one as you no longer know what is fact or fiction or how the hell what you are watching was even filmed.
And then you get to the end, not completely sure of what you just watched. You miss the characters you barely knew and realize that you have tears in your eyes. For what reason? You don’t know. It doesn’t matter. Sometimes, beauty is enough.
*I should note, I did not see this in 3D as it wasn’t available to me, but I’ve heard it is spectacular.*