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MOVIE REVIEW: "Nocturama"

Wild Bunch Distribution
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Rusty's Score
2
2 Rustys

Nocturama is an example of having all the working pieces in line, but without the right spark, everything falls apart.

A bunch of young radicals place Semtex explosives around France and wait in a shopping center overnight waiting for everything outside to blow over. Two Muslim brothers, a suave talking leader, a white France native couple, a redhead that plays security, and so on — everyone involved ranges from different ethnicities and backgrounds, but have the same motive to inflict terror on the city.

Their motive is never detailed, which is strange as we are given a near-silent opening act that follows each individual member as they go from traveling around to reaching their destination. You would think sometime throughout this masturbatory build-up that we would get a real thought provoking political explanation that would give these anti-heroes a double-edged sword of consciousness but such a thing isn’t presented.

We don’t necessarily need to know why they set off explosives as it’s just the plot device to throw them in the shopping center. Ambiguity in character motives isn’t a foreign concept and has worked for countless other films. Yet in Nocturama, it starts gnawing at the edges as with the absence of rationale given for each character, we skip any form of character development — leaving us with a gaggle of teenagers sharing serious moments while Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair” or Chief Keef’s “I Don’t Like” is blasting in the background. Which is as off-putting and out of touch as it sounds.

The audience is smart enough to figure out that their act of terrorism likely stems from corporate or political angst or maybe just general teenage malaise. It makes it all the more ironic that they are kids obsessed with materialism and pop hits as they wait for the fires to cool off before attempting to make their getaway.

Forgiveness for a first act that builds tension for an act of terrorism void of explanation could be saved by compelling characters for a second act and a strong finisher, which writer-director Bertrand Bonello doesn’t offer.

It was a shocking discovery to find out this is the sixth film from Bonello. To have this level of underdevelopment within your characters this late in your career is unacceptable. Ambiguity isn’t a natural art for Bonello. He can’t write compelling characters or a worthwhile plot with substantial qualities. Boredom stretches to the characters’ conversations that eventually dwindle down to conversations about what time it is and hypothesizing about how much damage their attacks did.

It suffers from a lack of confrontation. Once the outside forces start to meet the terrorists, the film gives up no sense of real tension or willingness to care for the terrorists. It sounds odd to want to empathize with terrorists, but a more talented filmmaker could do it. We just spent over an hour with them as they talk about everything but their attacks and we are left with no moral redemption once their fate is questioned. Their desired reign is transitory and pointless.

It’s a film that forgets to answer questions needed to start having a movie worth following. It’s a film that believes brushing off explanations with “it had to happen” is good enough. It’s a film that treats its audience as bad as its characters.

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About the Author

Kevin Tudor

Born and raised in the mean streets of Yukon, Oklahoma, Kevin is currently majoring in...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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