In “Nocturama”, shown at Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, a provocative subject of young terrorists in Paris is weakened by generic characterizations and a lack of contemporary context.
The film’s director/writer Bertrand Bonello (“Saint Laurent”) introduced his work. He said the film was inspired by the “crazy” events in France and throughout Europe. Bonello described himself as “obsessed” with the “contemporary period”. He said the script started in 2010-2011, before many recent events, and that “Nocturama” combines “ultra-realim and abstraction.”
“Nocturama” begins as a group of young people methodically go through their planned routines to create large-scale destruction throughout Paris, including assassination and explosions in buildings and cars. The famous statue of Joan of Arc burns.
The characters as written are one-dimensional without any insight or much interest. The film doesn’t give any reason for the young terrorists, they include children of immigrants as well as members of the upper class.
The terrorists retreat to a large-scale department store and return to typical juvenile behavior. They get caught up in the surrounding luxury goods, trying on designer items and riding electric cars. This sequence is a very obvious statement on consumerism. One young terrorist declares his hidden love for another. As their hideout is discovered, they repetitiously meet their fates, without emotional effect.