Nocturama TIFF 2016

TIFF 2016: Nocturama Review


Nocturama is so black and white, it’s grey. It is the story of a contemporary terrorist attack in Paris. Terrorism is certainly a hot button issue at this year’s Festival (stay tuned for our review of Layla M. next week) and while this film is sleek and polished, it is a bit too long and not as incisive as I would have liked.

The plot is simple. A group of youth – too many to count – plot a scheme that involves the detonation of several bombs in key areas of Paris, including the headquarters of a real-life banking corporation that (presumably, as it does happen) laid off a significant number of workers. However, like the students protesting in front of Nathalie’s classroom in Things to Come, the (rightful) reasons to protest are skimmed over in light of a simplistic plot that everyone can understand: the Banks and Government are the Bad Guys, so Let’s Blow Them Up. (Note to the CIA, this is not my opinion. Thanks Snowden for reminding me to say that.)

The hatching of the plot is first fascinating to watch and piece together. Each member of the terrorist group has a specific mission to play, and some of them make deadly mistakes. However, after a while, the fragmented nature of the film, and the way it is filmed (as if it is a suspenseful episode of 24) gets tiring, and the tension deflates like a balloon when nothing seems to happen. BOOM.

In the second half of the film, the terrorists hole up in a wonderful location – an abandoned department store. Reminiscent of Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later with some creepy mannequins, the terrorists become like children in a chocolate factory. However, some scenes here drag on far too long – perhaps half could have been trimmed off. Thankfully the ending is memorable.



Friday, September 16, 9:15 pm @ TIFF Bell Lightbox

Michael McNeely is a deaf-blind film critic and an advocate for greater accessibility in our cinemas. Read more about his story here.