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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Review: Nocturne

Director: Zu Quirke

Screenplay: Zu Quirke

Year: 2020

“Nocturne” is one of the two movies in the second round of the “Welcome to the Blumhouse” series on Amazon Prime Video. The first pair of films in the series, “The Lie” and “Black Box”, left us with the first one being disappointing and the second one a decent sci-fi thriller. Where will the quality balance tilt towards with these two incorporations to round up the series? I can say in advance that with "Nocturne" it's towards the positive. 

Juliet is a talented pianist, overshadowed by the success of her also talented sister. Blinded by jealousy and her desire to stand out, she makes a Faustian deal without being conscious of the consequences. While her career as a pianist starts taking a positive turn, her personal life does it in the opposite direction, taking her to put in danger her relationship with friends and family, and even her own life. 

Classical music in horror cinema has become somewhat popular in recent times. Movies like 

The Perfection”, “The Sonata", and now “Nocturne”, showcase the validity of this comment, and something the three of them have in common is that they are all good movies. In quality, as well as on topic, "Nocturne" is closer to "The Sonata", where the classical music is tied to a supernatural force in a movie that is good but not excellent.

Another movie with which it draws some parallels is with the French "Raw". In both movies, we see the dynamic between two sisters, where one is successful and popular, while the other is shy and wrestles with standing out, flourishing jealousy and confrontations between the two of them. Syndey Sweeney (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) and Madison Iseman (“Annabelle Comes Home”) are responsible for giving life to the sisters Juliet and Vivian, and they do an excellent job of portraying the wear of their relationship and their emotional strength. 

Zu Quirke debuts in the director and screenwriter's roles in a full-length feature with this movie that, like the rest of the entries in the “Welcome to the Blumhouse” series, handles itself more on the thriller than the horror realm. What little horror "Nocturne" shows is of great quality and, up until now, is the one that could have benefited the most from taking advantage of this element, with several opportunities for exploring this darker side, but only scratches the surface. However, where Quirke stands out is in the great use of the arts, like the cinematography and especially the music, to evoke emotions.

“Nocturne” shows the sacrifices and the pressure that young people can feel when they want to stand out in some discipline, and how this can cloud their judgment while making decisions and how it can destroy their interpersonal relationships. Although not the most original, the plot and the acting are compelling, and it is a well-done movie. It only needed to go deeper on the music notebook's background, an item that is key in the plot, to give it a more convincing closure and taking advantage of the opportunities it had to dwell in the horror aspect.

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