There’s been a refreshing inclination of late, for filmmakers to focus their attentions on female protagonists engulfed in their own, personal conflict, while their respective partners are away, fighting battles themselves. The likes of The Keeping Room, Testament of Youth and Suite Francaise illuminate this point – though while they study women suffering as a result of war, in Isabel Coixet’s Nobody Wants the Night – the chief antagonist in this instance, is nature.

Inspired by real events, we meet Josephine Peary (Juliette Binoche), the beleaguered wife of explorer Robert Edwin Peary – who is off on another expedition to be the first man to approach the North Pole. Fed up of waiting for him to return, Josephine decides to venture out and follow his path, hoping to catch up with him, and travel together to his target. Alongside local natives and the adroit, experienced traveller Bram Trevor (Gabriel Byrne) she sets off into the icy wilderness – until she reaches the rest stop where she expects her husband to be – only to find Allaka (Rinko Kikuchi), who, much to her dismay, is also in pursuit of the very same man.

Nobody Wants the Night survives, primarily, from our protagonist and entry point, Josephine. Helped along by Binoche, of course, she’s beguiling and endearing – and has quite a remarkable dress sense. While others are gallivanting around in tattered fur from animals they have hunted – she’s dressed fashionably, evidently empowered by her own sense of style and elegance, in spite of the conditions, and why not? She’s like a mixture of Blanche Dubois and Miss Havisham – with a sprinkling of Ray Mears. It’s her relationship with Allaka which provides the film with its emotional core, and while veering into somewhat predictable territory, it remains a layered, nuanced alliance – and they both have an inherent maternal nature for one another. It’s not amicable from the start however, as Josephine remains jealous of her new associate, which is not a sentiment she would have felt had she been stranded with a male. Despite being so strong-willed and progressive herself, we’re given the impression that it’s not a trait she was able to – initially – see in other women.

Where Nobody Wants the Night falls short, however, is within Coixet’s inclination to persistently undermine her own good work, by implementing such cliched, banal moments that are so superfluous. Like the narration, which feels so out of place, as though presenting a film for children. “There’s a shelter over her head – but is there a shelter over her emptiness?” Honestly. Not to mention the sequences where Josephine peers out pensively into the distance and mutters lines like “we will finish this” or the unforgivable where she dramatically says the title of the film out loud. It merely cheapens an otherwise unique picture, detracting from the innovation and dressing it up in such conventional surroundings.

The picture does grow somewhat tedious as we approach the latter stages too – as Josephine and Allaka spend such a lengthy time in the small, confined shack in the wilderness. Though evidently the point – to provoke a sense of disquiet and claustrophobia from the viewer to make for an immersive experience, conversely, it doesn’t quite make for a very entertaining one, which has to count for something.