email print share on Facebook share on Twitter share on reddit pin on Pinterest

LES ARCS 2019

Review: Nocturnal

by 

- Italy’s Nathalie Biancheri puts her name to a promising debut with a first feature film produced in the UK and revealing great directorial prowess

Review: Nocturnal
Lauren Coe in Nocturnal

"There was a man waiting for you outside the house this morning." When your daughter’s a 17-year-old girl in the midst of an adolescent crisis, who barely says a word to you, and the man in question is in his thirties and of rather uninspiring appearance, there’s arguable cause for concern. It’s around this ambiguous transgenerational relationship - where two perpendicular paths intersect causing knots of desire and affection, secrets and misunderstandings - that the action unfolds in the British production Nocturnal [+see also:
interview: Nathalie Biancheri
film profile
]
, a promising first fiction feature film by Italy’s Nathalie Biancheri, which was screened in a French premiere in the Hauteurs section of the 11th Les Arcs Film Festival after its initial unveiling at the London Film Festival.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Set on the Yorkshire coast and in a world of greyness that’s somewhat typical of realist films focusing on the English working classes, the story, which was written by the director alongside Olivia Waring, follows a developing relationship between two lonely souls and is laced with suspense. Having returned to her single mother’s home region after a childhood spent in Ireland, young Laurie (Lauren Coe) struggles to find her place in her new high school. Following a frosty welcome by her classmates, she takes refuge in an intense training routine on the athletics track, and it’s here that she comes to the attention of Pete (Cosmo Jarvis), a withdrawn character who makes ends meet by taking on a variety of renovation jobs, and who’s right in the middle of splitting up with his girlfriend. The repeated, intense looks he casts Laurie’s way fluster her and she ends up accepting to go on a boozy night out with him, without Pete taking advantage of the situation. A strange, platonic friendship develops between them, fuelled by nights out, beer, ecstasy, walks on the beach or through resolutely industrial landscapes. But as Laurie becomes increasingly forward, Pete is ever more evasive…

Playing on the dark impact of Pete’s rather loutish physical appearance, and creating an underlying atmosphere full of tension and bottled-up pain, Nathalie Biancheri makes deft use of a classic narrative format, delaying the plot resolution for as long as possible and those revelations which will tip the story into a whole other place in the final third of the film. But beyond this cunning engineering, not to mention the perfect performances delivered by Cosmo Jarvis (who confirms his talent following on from his turn in The Young Lady [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: William Oldroyd
film profile
]
) and Lauren Coe, who are also very well supported by Sadie Frost and Amy Griffiths, Nocturnal showcases the many qualities of a director who knows how to pull a team together. Equipped with an unquestionable sense of atmosphere and realist precision, she gets the most she can out of Polish director of photography Michal Dymek’s wonderful talent (who made his mark with Dolce Fine Giornata [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Jacek Borcuch
film profile
]
, My Friend The Polish Girl [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
and Supernova [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Bartosz Kruhlik
film profile
]
) and the same goes for the highly suggestive music composed by Australia’s Aaron Cupples (who produced some brilliant work on the documentaries Island of The Hungry Ghosts [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
and The Disappearance of My Mother [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
). This ability to pull together talent makes Nathalie Biancheri one to watch, and we await her next opus Wolf with much interest.

Nocturnal is produced by Rickshaw Entertainment with MOR Productions and Resolve Media, whilst sales are in the hands of Urban Distribution International.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

(Translated from French)

Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.