Charlotte Gainsbourg is Elizabeth, a woman in her forties who was suddenly left alone with her children, initially high school students, Judith (Megan Northam) and Matthias (Quito Rayon-Richter), by her husband for the younger one. The plot of the film by the French Mikhaël Hers begins in 1981, on the night of the presidential elections, when the left took over power, and we follow the lives of this Parisian family through episodes in 1984 and 1989. “Les passagers de la nuit” had its premiere in the main program of the festival in Berlin, and it is a somewhat nostalgic and sensitive drama that exudes a retro flair, occasionally accentuated by archival documentary footage from that time.
Suddenly left by her husband who was by her side during her breast cancer, Elizabeth is now forced to start all over again. And it won’t be easy at all because when she was with her husband she didn’t have to work, and now she is alone with her children and is full of fear, insecurity and doesn’t know what to do. Fate will therefore lead her to work as an assistant on a nightly radio show that she listens to anyway and is hosted by Vanda (Emmanuelle Béart), where listeners call and talk about themselves, their past and their problems, fears and thoughts. One day, 18-year-old vagrant Talulah (Noée Abita) will appear in the studio, whom Elizabeth, although alone in an unenviable situation, will try to help.
Talulah will live temporarily with Elizabeth and her family in a spacious Parisian apartment with a view of the Seine, and the young vagabond will prove especially fatal for the then 15-year-old Matthias, who will fall in love with her. But as suddenly as she appeared in their lives, she would also disappear only to reappear four years later when she was mired in serious problems. And in an interesting way, Hers here presents the daily life and existential concerns of an average Parisian family in the eighties, the emotions and feelings that the characters encounter and how they are affected by the passage of time. The film was shot with a lot of style and emotion, which enters a somewhat existentialist field that Eric Rohmer had blazed in the new wave.