Stylish, intelligent, and thematically challenging
A stylish and thoughtfully-executed thriller about a group of young adults who execute a terror attack in Paris. Nocturama is a difficult film to review because its intent is somewhat elusive. The filmmaker's approach is uncompromising in his choice to tell this story and explore its themes largely through visuals alone. He challenges the viewer by refraining from explicitly spelling out the details for you: the exact motivation for the attack, the details of the political climate that provoked it, the overarching themes and intent of the film etc. It simply shows you the events, even endears you to its terrorist characters, and then forces you to sit in discomfort as the credits roll without a clear idea of who you were supposed to be siding with and why. Rather than using these characters and this fictional setup to offer a more straight-forward thriller with a narratively satisfying story, the film instead seems to be using this scenario more to explore larger, more universal themes: the relationship between citizens and government, consumerist culture, the disillusionment of the youth, and the psychology of rebellion. I appreciated this approach, even if it personally left me feeling a bit unsatisfied or puzzled (which is something that may be remedied with future viewings). Regardless, the film was frequently a joy to watch. It has a clean, icy feel somewhat reminiscent of a David Fincher film and employed a lot of clever editing that played with the passage of time in interesting ways. Overall I feel it could've been a little tighter and perhaps more impactful with its themes, though it's certainly worth a watch for the strong, intelligent execution and visual prowess alone.
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