“Night Falls” Film Review – Film Critics Program #2


2021 | Dir. Ariane Bilodeau | 30 minutes
Reviewed by Josiah McClelland

“La nuit des chutes,” or Night Falls is a good example of what a film can do. There was not a moment where I wasn’t captivated. The flowery dialogue, the cinematic black and white shots, and flowing symphonic music make it hard not to enjoy this film. It is truly arthouse-like and takes delight in questioning the relationship between man and nature.  But its metaphors, while a tad confusing for some, highlight the fragility of human industry. By using the example of the town of Shawinigan Falls it shows not only how we as humans exploit the environment for the sake of industry, but it also shows how precarious that industry is.

It is this that drives the film – questioning the place where the industry is, from small towns to beyond. From the logging start-ups that quickly became the town’s bread and butter, to the 50’s where factories were king. It finally ends up with the absence felt by factories that are shutting down. The film takes a look at what Shawinigan Falls became, tracking its history and showing it to the viewer not only in a poetic way, but as almost a warning. Do not let the industry drive the boat as it will inevitably sink. Yet, then again, this film is very open-ended with its metaphors.

One of those metaphors is Nature VS Man. The film compares the unstoppable force of Nature to Man and industry. A juggernaut of innovation that leaves behind a trail of destruction in its wake. Through the messiness and carnage – something shines through. There is a duality in nature, for every thunderstorm – there is a drizzle. But, what that force does create are times of great achievement as seen by Shawinigan Falls during its heyday. This is brought to life by the men and women who worked for these industry titans.

The film also chooses to address mankind’s part in nature. It is easy to see where the film lies in this debate. Seeing us as a part of nature, we rebellious children decided to ignore mother earth and exploit her instead. But, that tumultuous relationship is an ever-changing one. Night Falls also highlights the adaptation of both humans and nature, showing its courage in the face of unstoppable adversity. Face it they do as the film continues; we see not only the adaptation of humans to living in the early settlements of Shawinigan Falls but their intelligence as they harness the waterfalls for their industry.  Completing the circle between man, nature, and industry.

Night Falls is no doubt an arthouse film. Its cinematic compositions sell it as a blissful look back on the history of a small Canadian town. Questioning its past and future going so far as to invoke the romantic painting Wanderer above the Sea of Fog by Caspar David Friedrich. Just like the painting draws viewers on its air of mystery and thoughtful provocation.

Night Falls will screen on the GFF On Demand platform as part of the brand-new VISIONS Film Series from July 16-22 and as part of the Manitoba Shorts In Competition for free on our homepage July 17 and then from July 19-25 on GFF On Demand. The Visions Film Series features experimental and devised cinema that pushes the boundaries of storytelling in film, while the Manitoba Shorts In Competition highlights films created by and for Manitobans.