Is there a way to depict infidelity without looking trashy? We’ve seen cheating tackled so much on both TV and film that it’s become tiring. If the theme remains the same, is there a way for filmmakers to make the public watch on the big screen again? This French movie from Cannes proves it’s possible.
On a Magical Night takes on the subject of marital affairs with so much wit. Likewise, it doesn’t rely on revelation alone. Instead, it introduces the cheating aspect right at the start. That enables the film to dig into the lives of its characters. But how did On a Magical Night succeed where so many others failed?
A Truly Magical and Hilarious Night
Through the lens of comedy and fantasy, the director Christophe Honore elevates the discourse on marital affairs. It doesn’t present cheating as an entirely evil thing. Instead, On a Magical Night uses it as a springboard. What makes someone cheat in the first place? Does it mean they’re no longer in love?
Chiara Mastroianni’s character Maria has had multiple affairs with young men — leaving her husband Richard devastated. But what does this say about her? As the two argue and sleep apart, the film starts to unravel its magical nature. From here, a selection of amusing characters appears in front of Maria.
And this is what’s interesting: Maria sees the young version of her husband. It allows for more questions: Why is she still with Richard after all these years? Does Richard still look good at his age or is it one of the causes of Maria’s infidelity? It’s a clever way to reassess the honeymoon stage in serious relationships.
The Problem with Overthinking
On a Magical Night also invites another woman into the story: Irene. She was Richard’s first lover. Likewise, she was his piano teacher — and they had a long-term relationship. They didn’t get married only because Maria came into the picture. Irene believed they wouldn’t work out, so she let Richard go.
But this magical night once again brings Irene closer to Richard. Since Maria broke her husband’s heart, perhaps it’s a sign for Irene to be with Richard. Interestingly, the film considers this idea. But it does this to explore the pros and cons of overthinking. Irene is filled with doubts about her love life.
On a Magical Night shows her the consequences of her choices. In reality, we won’t know what will happen if we took the alternate route in life. Here, she sees exactly what her future will look like if she stayed with Richard — or looked for love elsewhere. To her surprise, the latter doesn’t seem so bleak.
Perception of Affairs and Love
In just 90 minutes, the film goes through the past, present, and future. We see how Maria undergoes an emotionally exhausting process. In real life, this would’ve taken her weeks or even months. But the film gives her one magical night to look at her decisions. And in the end, she finds clarity in herself.
The movie doesn’t explicitly tell us what happens between Maria and Richard in the future. Yet it still believes in love — one that’s selfless and overflowing. That even if they no longer stay together, they will still care for each other. All in all, On a Magical Night is an adoring project filled with wit and heart.