Internet Love and Distanced Sex in Jem Goulding’s “Goodnight London” Art Film

“Goodnight London,” the new short art film by director Jem Goulding, will strike a chord for any millennial who has deeply questioned his or her identity. Whether tangled in a heap of bed sheets or wandering through a rave, disconnected to fellow partiers, the question of one’s “true” character occasionally arises and clouds the mind.

We see Olivier Barthelemy, recently featured in a Saint Laurent campaign, wandering through urban streets to the melancholic track “Goodnight London” by MONEY (Bella Union), eventually finding himself in a midst of various juxtapositions and uncertainties. He walks under a neon-lit “Unisex” sign, signifying the ambiguity of sexual orientation–a theme later continued through his participating in gay video sex via the Internet. There is a play on intimacy, not only in the film’s depicting distanced sex, but also the main character’s insistence on wearing a mask throughout the streets, hiding his true face.

“As a director, the track was a dream because it was emotive enough to carry a weighted story, but gentle enough to act as a kind of score for moving imagery,” says Goulding. “We didn’t want anything too literal, so I devised a story that drew on elements both the band and I felt were relevant to now: internet personas leading to confused identity, disposable friendship, the negative effects of artificial light, and how it interfere with more than we realize. The light omitted from this light is a metaphor for the artificial promises we are sometimes fooled by.”

In discussing the music choice, Goulding is very honest with her intention. “I had been waiting for a track like this for a while, something truly soulful and so very sad, because I’d posed myself the challenge that the next music project I undertook, it would be a piece that made people want to cry. I’ve noticed in general that music videos rarely get there. If this thing moves one person to tears out there, I’ll have satisfied my aspirations for it entirely.”

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