The morning before a major performance at New York’s legendary Birdland Jazz Club, Vivienne (Sarah Jessica Parker) receives a devastating medical diagnosis. She struggles to process the news that day as she attends rehearsal, plans a tour with her manager (Common), gives an interview, handles a visit from her mother (Jacqueline Bisset), and visits her ex-husband and child. Her only true comfort is found in New York City as she reflects on her past and present life there.
With Blue Night, director Fabien Constant (Mademoiselle C) creates an intimate portrait that celebrates what film can do best: tell an entire life story through the lens of a single day. Sarah Jessica Parker, in her first film in three years, gives a revelatory performance. Her ability to express comfort with all the modern complications of love and relationships allows Vivienne to be completely and satisfyingly known in just a single day spent with her.
Manhattan is also a main character in Blue Night, showing off the city in ways that are fresh and elegant (I was dying to know where these scenes were shot!). As Executive Producer, Parker’s influence in presenting the Big Apple as a central character is beautifully realized. Vivienne’s relationship to NYC in her darkest hour is so relatable; it’s not just the people in her life that provide the greatest comfort; its her city that truly loves her back. To be able to translate this ephemeral truth onto film is no small task, but Blue Night wisely does so by scaling its story down to the pivotal day in Vivienne’s life where the things that provide the deepest comfort will be non-negotiable.
The best thing about Blue Night is its focus on the life of a woman as an Artist. In choosing only one scene where actually Vivenne performs, the film asserts it isn’t really about touting Parker’s talent as a singer — she really could have been a successful artist in anything and it would have been the same film. The jazz soundtrack brings her passion fully to life, where she often escapes the chaos by folding herself into music. Blue Night is a quietly bold film, painting an honest, touching portrait of a woman who made the choices that were most authentic for her happiness.