Review: Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello, 2016)

French director Bertrand Bonello has had an erratic track record with his films getting UK distribution. His early features The Pornographer (2001) and Tiresia (2003) are available on DVD, but 2011’s House of Tolerance was his last feature to get a British theatrical run, and barely one at that. 2014’s Saint Laurent didn’t get picked up for the UK, despite festival buzz, perhaps, in part, due to another biopic of the fashion designer being released the same year.

Nocturama, which premiered in 2016, has also been victim to distribution delays (not just in the UK), but there’s a pretty understandable reason why those with money were hesitant to strike deals. Although it was shot before the Paris terror attacks of November 2015, Nocturama’s plot concerning various bomb attacks across that same city, and its focus on those who perpetrate the acts, rather than anyone dealing with the aftermath, made it a particularly hot potato. And it’s already a pretty provocative work in the first place.

Thanks to Netflix, British viewers can finally see what the fuss is all about, and kudos to the streaming giant for picking up home media rights, for Nocturama is one of the key films of the last couple of years; a lightly experimental take on modern terrorism with a slow-burning creepiness and disconcerting blend of cheekiness and clinical style…

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