Acidly whimsical, as if Noah Baumbach and Michel Gondry had engendered a Belgian brainchild together, Bert Scholiers’ assured debut “Charlie and Hannah’s Grand Night Out” mines the banality of drunken outings and one-night stands for the enlightening intelligence they contain about the irrationality of attraction.
Charmingly apprehensive Hannah (Daphne Wellens), plagued by ex-boyfriend trouble, hits the town with her assertive friend Charlie (Evelien Bosmans), who’s in a functionally unsatisfying relationship. Not long after they transfer from house party to crowded bar, their timidly handsome acquaintance Fons (Patrick Vervueren) flips his sights from Hannah to Charlie, instigating an amorous triangle.
Drugs ingested by the lovesick heroines early in the evening yield wondrously tactile incarnations of their witty remarks and alienating thoughts on intimacy — mirages of which those slightly more sober around them are also cognizant. High-maintenance talking breasts, Tilda Swinton’s scalp, a ride through a black hole on a polar bear, and a saturated retro horror interlude feature among the delightful tricks that fill Scholiers’ magic bag. Sight gags nimbly satirize the unfeasible expectations we placed upon potential partners.
Dreamlike black-and-white cinematography that pivots between aspect ratios, brushed with a jazzy score, elegantly suits the biting romanticism of this bite-size reverie. Its imaginative fantasies and enchanting acting won’t solve our ageless woes of the heart, but will certainly trigger a smile for their relatable absurdity.
*Stick around for a post-credits scene involving the Eiffel Tower and Tinder.
Running time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Playing: Starts Sept. 27, Laemmle’s Music Hall