Excellent performances by leads Joanna Kerns, Jenny Robertson and Ted Marcoux raise this standard noir character study from the "mundane made for tv movie" to the level of "intriguing and watchable b-movie." The reverse Oedipal conflict this story proffers could easily have gone down in cliche flames but works precisely because the actors are all so game and convincing, especially Ms. Kerns as the fading but still sexually enticing hotel matron. Robertson is also easy on the eyes, though, and at her best in the early coming of age sequences where she displays a pleasing simultaneous mix of naivate and stirrings. Full grown, Robertson is less convincing and betrays a bit of a melodramatic streak, particularly when an elder Marcoux returns and confronts her in the boathouse sequence. Marcoux is all smoulder and swarthy mumble; I wonder why he hasn't worked more as he reminds one of a young Jason Patric (though Patric hasn't been very visible of late, either, come to think of it.)
To sum up, The Nightman succeeds when it stays with a simple line (mother and daughter both falling for the same man) and fails when it strays (the blurry and shaky finale sans Kerns). There's a little more edge than you're likely to find in most tv movies, which is certainly a plus. It's not brain surgery but thanks to the solid lead performances and the generally enjoyable noir flavor, I recommend this as a good timekiller for any fan of psychological crime dramas and character-driven neo noir. 7.5 / 10
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