Nocturama Reviews

  • Sep 12, 2020

    *Spoiler Warning* This film brought to mind questions on whether you can enjoy a film if you don't know what the director is going for, to which I'd answer yes. For instance, "The Color of Pomegranates" and "El Topo" sailed over my head, but I still enjoyed the mood and feel to them. With this film though, I was frequently wondering whether I was getting anything out of it. Before I go any further though, I'll state that there are some aspects and scenes which, in a vacuum, worked really well. For instance, I liked that the violence was used sparingly and had a direct, matter-of-fact approach which resisted excitement or awe and how the minutes before the final act made for a strong slice of buildup, with the scenes of the terrorists trying on clothes or listening to music taking on a different feel than they did beforehand. Also, certain scenes stuck with me for a while such as David's nighttime walk through the city which raised a couple implications towards the motives of the terrorists or Yacine wearing a wig and makeup during his rendition of "My Way", which, due to an early conversation where Yacine, thinking he was being treated as a clown, refused to sing for the group, seemed to be masking something deeper. Overall, there's some bits I really like and some competent filmmaking here and there. This potential though was smothered so much in an approach which left me cold and distant. As said, so much of this film left me wondering whether I was getting anything out of it and the opening 50 or so minutes are a prime example of this. In spite of all the visual and editing techniques Bonello utilized here (cross-cutting, flashbacks, split screen effects), this sequence ultimately failed to connect with me. I found it to be mostly lacking in suspense given it failed to establish stakes or threats which could've potentially disrupted the terrorist plot for a number of the characters involved or by cutting to flashbacks that occurred before (?) the bombing, sacrificing much of the narrative momentum in this sequence in the process (which wasn't even a lot to begin with). As it stood, the sequence really dragged and didn't leave much of an impression on me. Unfortunately, the second half didn't fare much better. One reviewer made a case for it by writing "Why pigeonhole these characters by allying them with a specific political ideology when you can let their actions...speak for them?" Giving the characters a political ideology wasn't what I was looking for. Rather, watching them interact with the various material goods in the department store didn't mean much to me. As stated earlier, Yacine's rendition of "My Way" was effective, but the rest of their actions lacked the interesting motivations that Yacine's sub-plot had and so much of what went on didn't interest me much and felt like filler for something which never occurred. Finally, the ending felt like brutality for brutality's sake. The only interpretation I have for the ending for it to make sense is that the terrorists carried about their plot as a response to the unethical behavior of the police in the city, except I can't find enough evidence to back up that interpretation. If this was Bonello's intention, this theme would've had to been hammered into the film more for the final act to hit as hard as it could've. As it stood, while I appreciated it somewhat, it didn't seem like it was making a coherent point and left me, like so much of what else happened in the film, cold (I also thought the shootings were portrayed in an awkward way, but that might just be me). Really, a lot of this film felt like a shell of what could've been a great film. A bunch of other aspects annoyed me as well. For instance, there was a recurring motif of presenting a scene several times from multiple angles and perspectives, and this worked well enough at some points (showing the bombs exploding in this style, for instance), but more often than not, this made for some distractingly annoying editing which seemed kind of pointless. Secondly, the flashbacks were integrated into the film in a pretty awkward manner that took away from the film, like the aforementioned flashbacks in the first 50 minutes or David's flashback after his nighttime walk through the city which seemed unnecessary. Finally, some scenes stuck out as being exceedingly bad, like one of the aforementioned scenes shown from multiple perspectives during the ending sequence, or a randomly placed, tonal breaking nightmare which bordered on the supernatural with how it seemed to blend into reality (which, if that's the case, is even more egregious). Really, while there's a few quality scenes and aspects mixed into this film, they're buried in such a myriad of flaws that I just can't recommend this. It's a shame, really, because this is such a unique approach to the genre which is rare to come by and Bonello had a good framework to tackle this approach with, but after watching it both times, it just sort of came and went by and, once the credits rolled, I didn't retain much of my experience with it.

    *Spoiler Warning* This film brought to mind questions on whether you can enjoy a film if you don't know what the director is going for, to which I'd answer yes. For instance, "The Color of Pomegranates" and "El Topo" sailed over my head, but I still enjoyed the mood and feel to them. With this film though, I was frequently wondering whether I was getting anything out of it. Before I go any further though, I'll state that there are some aspects and scenes which, in a vacuum, worked really well. For instance, I liked that the violence was used sparingly and had a direct, matter-of-fact approach which resisted excitement or awe and how the minutes before the final act made for a strong slice of buildup, with the scenes of the terrorists trying on clothes or listening to music taking on a different feel than they did beforehand. Also, certain scenes stuck with me for a while such as David's nighttime walk through the city which raised a couple implications towards the motives of the terrorists or Yacine wearing a wig and makeup during his rendition of "My Way", which, due to an early conversation where Yacine, thinking he was being treated as a clown, refused to sing for the group, seemed to be masking something deeper. Overall, there's some bits I really like and some competent filmmaking here and there. This potential though was smothered so much in an approach which left me cold and distant. As said, so much of this film left me wondering whether I was getting anything out of it and the opening 50 or so minutes are a prime example of this. In spite of all the visual and editing techniques Bonello utilized here (cross-cutting, flashbacks, split screen effects), this sequence ultimately failed to connect with me. I found it to be mostly lacking in suspense given it failed to establish stakes or threats which could've potentially disrupted the terrorist plot for a number of the characters involved or by cutting to flashbacks that occurred before (?) the bombing, sacrificing much of the narrative momentum in this sequence in the process (which wasn't even a lot to begin with). As it stood, the sequence really dragged and didn't leave much of an impression on me. Unfortunately, the second half didn't fare much better. One reviewer made a case for it by writing "Why pigeonhole these characters by allying them with a specific political ideology when you can let their actions...speak for them?" Giving the characters a political ideology wasn't what I was looking for. Rather, watching them interact with the various material goods in the department store didn't mean much to me. As stated earlier, Yacine's rendition of "My Way" was effective, but the rest of their actions lacked the interesting motivations that Yacine's sub-plot had and so much of what went on didn't interest me much and felt like filler for something which never occurred. Finally, the ending felt like brutality for brutality's sake. The only interpretation I have for the ending for it to make sense is that the terrorists carried about their plot as a response to the unethical behavior of the police in the city, except I can't find enough evidence to back up that interpretation. If this was Bonello's intention, this theme would've had to been hammered into the film more for the final act to hit as hard as it could've. As it stood, while I appreciated it somewhat, it didn't seem like it was making a coherent point and left me, like so much of what else happened in the film, cold (I also thought the shootings were portrayed in an awkward way, but that might just be me). Really, a lot of this film felt like a shell of what could've been a great film. A bunch of other aspects annoyed me as well. For instance, there was a recurring motif of presenting a scene several times from multiple angles and perspectives, and this worked well enough at some points (showing the bombs exploding in this style, for instance), but more often than not, this made for some distractingly annoying editing which seemed kind of pointless. Secondly, the flashbacks were integrated into the film in a pretty awkward manner that took away from the film, like the aforementioned flashbacks in the first 50 minutes or David's flashback after his nighttime walk through the city which seemed unnecessary. Finally, some scenes stuck out as being exceedingly bad, like one of the aforementioned scenes shown from multiple perspectives during the ending sequence, or a randomly placed, tonal breaking nightmare which bordered on the supernatural with how it seemed to blend into reality (which, if that's the case, is even more egregious). Really, while there's a few quality scenes and aspects mixed into this film, they're buried in such a myriad of flaws that I just can't recommend this. It's a shame, really, because this is such a unique approach to the genre which is rare to come by and Bonello had a good framework to tackle this approach with, but after watching it both times, it just sort of came and went by and, once the credits rolled, I didn't retain much of my experience with it.

  • Sep 27, 2018

    Boring and pointless. Not much of a plot, and characters with no motivations. Only good part of the film was watching all the characters get iced in the end. Skip.

    Boring and pointless. Not much of a plot, and characters with no motivations. Only good part of the film was watching all the characters get iced in the end. Skip.

  • Aug 07, 2018

    While it's a slow start, Nocturama provides a rewarding film not through its plot nor its characters, but in its ironic and pointedly empty treatment of them.

    While it's a slow start, Nocturama provides a rewarding film not through its plot nor its characters, but in its ironic and pointedly empty treatment of them.

  • Jul 05, 2018

    Would have been much higher rated not for the weak ending that detracts from the moments leading up to. Incredibly close to being a certified masterpiece yet falls short with a lazy ending that offers none of the intricacies of the previous two hours.

    Would have been much higher rated not for the weak ending that detracts from the moments leading up to. Incredibly close to being a certified masterpiece yet falls short with a lazy ending that offers none of the intricacies of the previous two hours.

  • Feb 11, 2018

    Okay, the motivations of the protagonists are intentionally not addressed, fine. But nor are they differentiated in any way to even understand them as individuals. And nothing thrilling happens in this thriller. And it offers no real commentary on the social order besides, what - terrorists are complex because they like stuff at the mall? This movie just doesn't say much and nor does it tell any kind of story. Which means you're left with not much at all.

    Okay, the motivations of the protagonists are intentionally not addressed, fine. But nor are they differentiated in any way to even understand them as individuals. And nothing thrilling happens in this thriller. And it offers no real commentary on the social order besides, what - terrorists are complex because they like stuff at the mall? This movie just doesn't say much and nor does it tell any kind of story. Which means you're left with not much at all.

  • Jan 06, 2018

    The entire mall scene is wonderfully executed because you know what's coming but they seem oblivious to the inevitable consequences bearing down on them, and when it happens, boy does it happen with a realism that was a bit unnerving.

    The entire mall scene is wonderfully executed because you know what's coming but they seem oblivious to the inevitable consequences bearing down on them, and when it happens, boy does it happen with a realism that was a bit unnerving.

  • Dec 18, 2017

    Nocturama is unsettling and unconventional in its upheaval of conventions and our expectations.

    Nocturama is unsettling and unconventional in its upheaval of conventions and our expectations.

  • Nov 16, 2017

    A tragic vision of senseless living and senseless dying in the age consumerism and terrorism. At times feels like senseless watching.

    A tragic vision of senseless living and senseless dying in the age consumerism and terrorism. At times feels like senseless watching.

  • Oct 07, 2017

    Nocturama is a good movie - it has great young actors, beautiful cinematography, creative film techniques, and a unique premise - but it struggles to come together as a compelling film. I think this is partly because of its jarringly different first and second acts. The first is more of a heist film, with minimal use of dialogue and relying heavily on tone and atmosphere to draw in the audience. The second half, however, is more character driven, adding depth to kids that I eventually ended up feeling for a lot. It makes for an unbalanced film, one that lacks narrative drive but makes up for it in style and script writing.

    Nocturama is a good movie - it has great young actors, beautiful cinematography, creative film techniques, and a unique premise - but it struggles to come together as a compelling film. I think this is partly because of its jarringly different first and second acts. The first is more of a heist film, with minimal use of dialogue and relying heavily on tone and atmosphere to draw in the audience. The second half, however, is more character driven, adding depth to kids that I eventually ended up feeling for a lot. It makes for an unbalanced film, one that lacks narrative drive but makes up for it in style and script writing.

  • Oct 01, 2017

    I really hate this movie, its slow and dosen`t have a real trama.

    I really hate this movie, its slow and dosen`t have a real trama.