REVIEW: ‘Nocturne’ Turns Up The Obsession

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Nocturne

Amazon Studios and Blumhouse have closed out their “Welcome to the Blumhouse” programming this week. The slate of four diverse films each centering on familial connections and the warping of them.  The Lie and Black Box opened up the programming and now Nocturne and Evil Eye close it out. While I got to cover how mother’s love can save a daughter in my review of Evil Eye, this review is focused on Nocturne and offers a bleak ending where love is absent and imagined at the same time.

Written and directed by Zu Quirke, Nocturne is the filmmaker’s breakout feature debut. The film stars Sydney Sweeney, Madison Iseman, Jacques Colimon, and Ivan Shaw. Set inside the halls of an elite arts academy, we see the growing the rift between musically gifted twin sisters. The two hit the trope of twins who exists on two different ends of the spectrum. Juliet (Sydney Sweeney) is timid, shy, and puts her heart into practice but is held back by her anxiety. Vivian (Madison Iseman) is nearly a piano prodigy, outgoing, and lucky in love. But when Juliet discovers the notebook of her dead classmate, a chain of events begin that up their sibling rivalry and changes both their lives.

As Juliet begins to outshine her more talented sister, their bond unravels. Pushed by the crushing weight of mediocrity, exaggerated by the fact that Vivian takes the most prominent position in the school’s concert who has been accepted to Julliard. Violet ices her hands. Takes her medication. And practices, over and over, following the seemingly predictive steps laid out in the journal even as they grow increasingly cryptic and terrifying.

Nocturne

The main focus of Nocturne is obsession driven by the fear of failure – in a similar way to films like Perfect Blue from Satoshi Kon and Sadayuki Murai, and the more well-known Black Swan by Darren Aronofsky. Juliet is a girl obsessed, scarred, and in need of being loved for her talent.  She wants the spotlight and when intensive practicing doesn’t move her fast enough to her goal, she turns embraces the only thing she thinks that can. As she spirals down into over-medication, malice, and delusion, her talent soars, that is, like in most tales of this manner, she falls.

The film’s success comes from Sweeney’s acting. Her ability to oscillate from vulnerable to vindictive and from apathetic to passionate is what sells every scene. The way she obsesses and fails as well as succeeds is emotionally poignant and disturbing because of how Sweeney is able to draw out our empathy and disgust.

While anyone who is a fan of the films mentioned above can see the ending coming from the first act, it’s the journey to it that allows Nocturne to be a story worth watching. Familial expectations, sibling jealousy, and the pressure for perfection all swirl together to tell a story of tragedy, fear, and the price art can take.

Nocturne is streaming now, exclusively on Amazon Prime.

 

Nocturne
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

While anyone who is a fan of the films mentioned above can see the ending coming from the first act, it’s the journey to it that allows Nocturne to be a story worth watching. Familial expectations, sibling jealousy, and the pressure for perfection all swirl together to tell a story of tragedy, fear, and the price art can take.