Nocturnal – Film Review
by Hugh Maguire
Director: Nathalie Biancheri
Writers: Olivia Waring (screenplay by), Nathalie Biancheri (screenplay by)
Stars: Cosmo Jarvis, Sadie Frost, Yasmin Monet Prince
‘It’s grim up North’ is something of a cliché but it is certainly grim in this decaying Yorkshire seaside town on the North Sea. And yet through wonderful acting and evocative camerawork, Nocturnal shows that there is always a new tomorrow and always something of hope and beauty to be captured in the every day and the mundane. Even a floodlit power station is transformed into something wondrous to behold.
Pete (Jarvis) is a brooding odd- job man who appears to be vegetating through the days and years, the odd piece of work here, the odd sexual encounter there. Few friends and fewer possessions, not much else to do in this town! Aimless and directionless with no wish for commitment, he passes his days in an established routine until his past comes back to haunt him and with it new realisations and potentially new options. At one point it could all go terribly wrong, and there is a sinking feeling that he is a perverted creep stalking much younger women. Is he a twisted voyeur, a sexual predator?
Two lost souls are thrown together it seems by chance – a young girl recently arrived with her mum from Ireland – lost in a different community that feels alien to her. Finding it difficult to befriend her peers and classmates she is drawn to the unsuitable much older man – and unknown to her mother goes off on the razzle-dazzle with him, knocking back shots, dancing and vomiting the night away. It will all end in tears – or so we anticipate – only to be corrected when we are made aware of the nature of the relationship. As she succumbs to his considerable sexual charms he recoils. Is he being conscious of the unsuitability of this liaison or something more?
On one level this has something of an EastEnders touch of high drama, the long-lost son of the third ex-husband materialising at the Registry Office, but it moves beyond that through the power of the two lead actors. Others have what might be called walk-on parts – the odd line here and there, but the film is essentially a two-hander revealing depths of intense feeling and emotion, feelings that cannot be articulated and find expression through physical action and expression. Cosmo Jarvis captures magnificently the awkwardness and turmoil of someone with feelings and pain unable to articulate what they are going through. Following on from his work in ‘Calm with Horses’ he is showing himself to be one of the great screen presences of the current day.