Successful in her teaching job at a conservative religious college, Camille (Pascale Bussières) looked forward to marrying her adoring, minister boyfriend (Henry Czerny) and settling down to the conventions of family and career. But a chance encounter with a beautiful, irresistibly sensuous young female circus performer named Petra (Rachael Crawford) is about to transform Camille s predictable life into an electrifyingly erotic adventure.
Captivated by Petra s impulsive sexuality and passionately free spirit, Camille is drawn into a world whose existence she never dared imagined: A world of hypnotic sensuality, rapturous self-discovery and exquisite erotic pleasure.
Now, walking an emotional high-wire between the familiar past and the forbidden future, Camille must choose between the love she can t forget... and the desire she can t resist.
Throughout Patricia Rozemas third film, conservatives tangle with liberals, men with women, and heterosexuals with those of more fluid sexual persuasions. Surface tension aside, When Night Is Falling
feels more personal than political. Camille (Pascale Bussières) teaches mythology at a Christian college in Toronto. Her fiancé, Martin (Henry Czerny, Clear and Present Danger
), is a fellow theologian. Their superior, Reverend DeBoer (David Fox, The Saddest Music in the World
), encourages them to marry. When Camilles dog dies, she neglects to inform Martin. At a laundromat, she meets Petra (Rachael Crawford), a circus performer, who offers support. She also leaves her card, so Camille seeks her out, but when Petra makes a pass, she flees. Petra tries again, so Camille talks her into being friends, but mutual attraction proves too strong to resist. A simplistic reading suggests that the death of a pet can lead to experimentation, except Rozema (Ive Heard the Mermaids Singing
) aims for a metaphorical reading rather than a literal one. Though the narrative isn't autobiographical, she also attended a Calvinist institution (the same one as writer/director Paul Schrader). It's a testament to her skill that the film feels so fresh, since the storyline echoes Lianna
(the academic milieu) and anticipates Tipping the Velvet
(the circus angle). It's also one of the more quotable same-sex love stories of the 1990s. As Martin tells Camille, "Maybe you can imagine more intoxicating options. That's okay--that's what imagination's for." To Rozema's heroine, however, fulfillment is for experiencing
, not imagining. --Kathleen C. Fennessy