As has become de rigeur for Enlightened Sex Dramas -- a genre on which the French have effortlessly cornered the market -- Chacun sa nuit has a cast full of pouty, mostly dark beauties; in this case they consist of Lucie (Lizzie Brocheré), her brother Pierre (Arthur Dupont) and their soul mates Sébastien (Pierre Perrier), Nicolas (Guillaume Baché) and Baptiste (Nicolas Nollet). The five seem to have grown up together and, even though Pierre is now in college, the group remains inseparable. Lucie has dated two of the boys, and the bisexual Pierre is engaged in a secret affair with the third. Even among those who aren't having sex, there's an aggressively casual attitude about nudity and physical contact, so the group does things like skinny dipping, and sunbathing nude together. Lucie, in particular, likes to lounge around naked -- she is, you see, a Sexual Being.
Pierre too, is a Sexual Being, and his prowess and magnetism in that department put his sister's to shame. Everyone, we are told, wants to touch Pierre, to be with him. As is often the case with such characters, it's never really clear what makes Pierre so appealing -- yes, he's brutally handsome, but the only time he shows any personality is when he's on stage, singing and playing guitar in the group's not-bad rock band. In these moments, we understand why he's so in demand. Off-stage, however, there's very little to him beyond the spouting of painfully trite ideas about knowledge and relationships; one wonders if anyone could actually stand to be around him for very long. Conveniently for those who want him, though, Pierre is proudly focused on his body and open to all forms of sexual experimentation, including sex-for-pay and participation in pansexual orgies organized by one of his johns. But he reserves his greatest affection -- emotional and otherwise -- for his sister. Though Lucie goes to great pains to assure her psychiatrist that she and Pierre never had penetrative sex, she nevertheless assures him that her brother's body knew hers very well.
Pierre's knowledge of Lucie is presented in the past tense because the film takes place after his sudden disappearance. We learn about Pierre and his relationships through flashbacks and Lucie's narration; the story we hear comes from a memoir of sorts that she's creating for her shrink, part of the treatment for the unspecified disorder that landed her in a mental institution some time after her brother vanished. In the aftermath of her brother's disappearance, Lucie only becomes more selfish (when, late in the film, someone finally calls her and Pierre on their utter lack of concern for anyone but themselves, you want to stand up and cheer), delighting in her new license to pout, threaten suicide, and manipulate those around her.
If the characters of Lucie and Pierre were less loathsome, the absurdity of Chacun sa nuit would be easier to take. As it is, however, the film takes its characters so seriously, and so willingly endorses their ludicrous behavior that the urge to get up and flee is almost overwhelming. Additionally, the movie is not done any favors by a cast whose hiring, it quickly becomes clear, was based on looks, not talent. Particularly guilty is this regard is Lizzie Brocheré, who plays Lucie for 100 minutes with a grand total of three expressions: Pout A, pout B and the old, reliable, thoughtful lip-bite. Her performance is a sadly fitting representation of the entire film: Deeply sincere, laughably misjudged, and insultingly shallow.