A missing woman, doomed romance, the cigarette stench of ennui. Bi Gan’s 2018 Cannes Film Festival premiere “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” has all the makings of a neo-noir classic. The Chinese film, released by Kino Lorber last year, is known for its 50-minute long take that plays out in 3D, but now it’s also going to be known as actress Cate Blanchett’s favorite comfort movie.
As discussed on Josh Horowitz’s “Happy Sad Confused” podcast (via The Film Stage), Blanchett nerded out over Bi Gan’s film, introduced to her by her son. “My son is a cinephile, so he has great taste. We watched my comfort movie actually, the other night, which he actually put me on to. It’s Bi Gan’s film ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night,’” she said.
Blanchett also revealed a flair for some even deeper cinematic cuts. “For me, I’m a huge Tarkovsky fan and an enormous fan of Chantal Akerman and Wong Kar-wai,” she said. As for Bi Gan, “it’s like he ingested all of those filmmaking reference points and then regurgitated up something of exquisite, painful beauty. [It’s] so complex, layered, and engrossing. It’s about love and memory and time, which I think we’re all thinking about at the moment, and place, which we’re all thinking about at the moment. But it’s strangely meditative and obviously dreamlike and profoundly relaxing. It’s one of those films that even though it’s relatively recent — because I was thinking, should I say ‘Stalker,’ but no, no — it’s this film because it contains all of those things, I think.”
Her love for the film continued as the actress, who presided over the Cannes jury that year but in Un Certain Regard where “Long Day’s Journey” premiered, told Horowitz, “It’s such a synthesis for my love of theater, being present in those long, slow takes often. It deals with prismatic meaning. Certain times, film can be such a literal medium, but when you encounter a film like this, you realize it doesn’t have to exist on that ellipse. You are saying that you watched it, but I actually allow it to wash over me. I think we’re so obsessed in the world in which we live where everything has to make sense and we grasp hold of a narrative and [this film] takes away all of those security footholds. It really slows your blood.”
Blanchett currently stars in the FX original series “Mrs. America” as Phyllis Schlafly, a conservative author who held staunchly opposed views to feminism and abortion in the 1970s, circa the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Just before quarantine took hold, Blanchett was filming Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley” in Canada with Bradley Cooper, Toni Collette, and Willem Dafoe.