Moa is new to town and doesn’t know anyone, and she’s far from people and places she loves. Dissociated and lonely, she takes refuge in a local karaoke joint, having a drink by herself at the bar.
But then she spots Mia, who has come in with a group of friends after a hard day and are going to divert themselves with some karaoke. Sensing a flicker of interest, Moa decides then to take a chance and put her name down with Mia to sing karaoke, but then backs out after her bold gesture. But before she can leave, her turn with Mia is called, giving her the chance to make a connection after all.
Writer-director Vilde Moberg, along with producer Anna Bjerke — is about the first flicker of intrigue in any romance, and about taking chances and putting yourself out to see where it will lead.
The narrative structure of the short — titled “Solfylte Netter” in its original Norwegian — is essentially a romantic comedy, but with its beautifully melancholy photography, naturalistic visual style and understated emotions, it handles its romance with intelligence and sensitivity.
Taking place mostly at the karaoke bar, most of the film’s dialogue is minimal and incidental to the situation. Moberg’s quicksilver direction instead anchors the storytelling upon the undercurrents of interest, uncertainty, hope and connection that flicker between the two women in the bar, captured in deft editing and gently natural and understated performances by actors Mimmi Tamba and Frida Stavnes, who play Moa and Mia, respectively.
The two actors don’t share a lot of dialogue together, but the film beautifully builds a spark of electricity and connection between the two through shared looks and reactions. Their exchange is sweet, romantic and recognizable to anyone who has ever looked across a room and found someone attractive — and then pursued that spark despite shyness or fear. Moa’s attempts to “meet cute” with Mia are a wonderfully relatable back-and-forth dance of boldness and vulnerability, and to watch her succeed almost despite herself is a quiet triumph.
“Sunlit Nights” is about the start of “something” between two women, and while it treats the LGBTQ angle of its storytelling with straightforward matter-of-factness, it succeeds because it focuses on emotions that are relatable and almost universal. Sweet, heartfelt and genuine, it creates that first moment of spark that starts any love story — and shows how magic can be found anywhere, if you’re bold and brave enough to go after it.