Nocturama  (2016)

I know I can tend to take a snarky/snobby tone when I talk about movies. I can veer towards the pretentious, avoiding mainstream movies (outside of the MCU) and checking out weirdo foreign or indie or whatever...sometimes it pays off, and sometimes I'm not too big to admit I just don't get it.

The concept for "Nocturama" seemed solid - a group of young people in France plant bombs around Paris, then choose a shopping mall to hide out in until the next day. It could have been an interesting and controversial look at how terrorists aren't always deranged lunatics, how they can have a crisis of faith, how things can go wrong, how they can have regret, and a full range of emotions. However, director Bertrand Bonello chooses fashion over function, and everything gets lost in a sea of long tracking shots, interesting cinematography, non-linear storytelling, and just overall artiness.

The first 30-45 minutes of this movie are a slog; nearly free of dialogue, I understand how it was meant to build tension, but at some point you can only build up so much before the tension dissipates and you get bored. If you can make it through the beginning, you do get rewarded with bits of insight to the characters, but for the most part the choice is made to just make this a group of vaguely disenfranchised kids. They don't really seem to have motivation for their destruction. Maybe if I knew a bit more about French politics I'd have understood it differently.

There have been plenty of times where I'd take the side of the artistic nature of a director (I watched and enjoyed all three films in Gun Van Sant's 'Death Trilogy'), and I'm appreciative of long tracking shots from Martin Scorsese or Hitchcock or Kubrick or Woody Allen...but these long shots just went too long.

I've complained that the Marvel movies are suffering from insane runtimes because they're cramming so much story into two and a half hours - here, there just isn't enough story to justify two hours and ten minutes. A tighter edit would push the story along at a better pace, and keep things more focused. The story could have been solid, but the flair surrounding it dragged it down.

[Celluloid Hero] gives "Nocturama" a 5 out of 10.

 

 

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