Often, you’ll hear a film criticized for having a premise that’s more suited for a short film rather than a feature-length movie. Filmmaker Saul Pincus, who has a background in making shorts, has surely caught wind of this comment because you can see the mechanics in his latest breakout indie Nocturne try to dodge this nitpick.
Nocturne has an intriguing premise featuring a shy insomniac (Cindy played by Mary Krohnert) falling for a sleepwalking co-worker (Armen played by Knickoy Robinson). She admires him from afar, and begins following him around the city when his unconscious antics take him outside the office. Armen also has the tendency to binge-eat while he snoozes, which gives Cindy an excuse to look out for his wellbeing.
During these introductory scenes when Saul Pincus is testing strange humour with romance, the audience experiences Nocturne in its natural element. Despite the oddball set-up, the occasional gross gags, and the potential for Cindy to turn creepy, the film still manages to be charming with its bittersweet romance involving its two game leads. The choice to make most of these exchanges dialogue-less positions the film in a specific purity where facial expressions and amusing instrumentals tell the story. It’s like a silent film told by John Waters.
When Pincus realizes he has to flesh out his peculiar film, he manages to expand on Cindy and Armen, but the elaboration goes in a disappointing direction.
The beauty of Nocturne is when the film keeps to an innocent simplicity. It weirds us out, but it’s uniqueness is heartwarming. When Pincus and co-writer Mitch Magonet expose the story using a different, more thrilling style, the shift never quite sticks its landing. Other supporting performances that play larger roles in the complicated plot are also not up to par with the work we’ve seen from Krohnert and Robinson.
Even though I didn’t care for the direction Nocturne decided to take, there’s still an informed brain driving the film. Most of Nocturne may have not worked for me, but I’m hopeful it’ll be a hidden gem for someone else.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie