Features Live Action Movies


Director – Natalie Biancheri – 2019 – UK – Cert. 15 – 84m


A man becomes obsessed with a schoolgirl and starts spending more and more time with her at night – in cinemas and on BFI Player and Curzon Home Cinema from Friday, September18th

A Yorkshire seaside town. Teenage schoolgirl Laurie (Lauren Coe) is training to be a sprinter and spends much of her time training at the school track. She’s spotted by odd job painter and decorator Pete (Cosmo Jarvis) whose regular girlfriend has just moved out of his apartment. Pete starts to take an interest in Laurie, eventually driving her out to a club then talking with her for hours in his flat.

From Laurie’s life at home with her mother Jean (Sadie Frost), it’s clear that they’ve only recently moved into the area. The girl has a healthy distrust of the older man who starts stalking her. She points out that he might be a serial killer, which he turns into a running joke. His interest seems pretty creepy though, so you do wonder if there’s any truth behind this banter. She’s a teenager playing at being an adult. When he takes her to a bar and they drink shots of whiskey, she is being sick soon after.

Pete has relations with another woman who works at the school, but his fixation on the young girl borders on the perverse. As the film unfolds, while Laurie thinks she’s seducing an older man, Pete’s interest seems to lie somewhere other than the sexual.

We spend some time with him when he’s working alone, either painting walls in the school or stripping paper and redecorating the interiors of people’s houses. He understands something of improving the physical spaces people inhabit, but the place he himself lives in is a bit of a dump and seems to reflect something of what is going on inside him.

It’s a dark, unsettling and effective little drama. Jarvis is the film’s main asset, delivering a convincing performance as a man tormented by past mistakes and unable to express himself adequately in words. When his girlfriend leaves him at the start, you can sense that he needs the woman but doesn’t really have anything to offer in return. While he thinks that’s okay, she clearly doesn’t. When it comes to Laurie, it turns out that he does in fact have something very specific to offer, but he screws the whole thing up by going about it completely the wrong way.

The locations in off-season Bridlington add to an overall atmosphere of run down lives and social isolation, with much of the film taking place at night. The title offers a clue: these are people who live in the dark. A late scene in a seaside café in the daytime suggests the characters may, just may, be moving out of that into a place that’s rather better illuminated.

Nocturnal is out in cinemas and on BFI Player and Curzon Home Cinema in the UK on Friday, September 18th.


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