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Stars: Lauren Coe, Cosmo Jarvis, Sadie Frost, Amy Griffiths, Laurie Kynaston

Director: Nathalie Biancheri

As if coronavirus weren't enough, British cinema has been struggling along for years on a diet of working-class gloom and doom, often in desolate locations (perhaps 60 per cent of the output), vapid comedies and romcoms (30 per cent) and only 10 per cent of mainstream movies or those the general public will actually pay to see. This is not good for the long-term survival of the industry.

For all the excellence of its two leading performances, Nocturnal is a film that slots firmly into the gloom bracket. It's set in a misbegotten town on the north-east coast of England, where the principal pastimes seem to be desperate dancing in divey discos, having sex and being sick on booze.

Laurie (Coe) is a teenage (the script wavers between 16 and 17) schoolgirl living with her divorced mother (Frost). She seemingly becomes the object of obsession for a 33-year-old painter/decorator (Jarvis), with whom she strikes up an unlikely if platonic friendship.

The director's style seems to consist of endless shots of people doing the same thing (the film has no more than an hour of content), with hard-to-hear dialogue and dark camerawork on dingy locations.

And I must, I think, take issue with the casting here: both leading actresses (or should we now call them actors?) are much too old for their roles. Coe, who's 34, does make a valiant attempt at playing a schoolgirl, even if her northern accent disappears at times, but there's little Frost to do to conceal the fact that she left 35 behind a long, long time ago. Cruel perhaps to single this out, but were there really no available players who were somewhere near the age of these characters?

I should admit I was late in spotting the film's key twist, but the final reveal leaves it with nowhere to go in the last reel.

David Quinlan

UK 2019. UK Distributor: Wildcard Distribution. Colour (unspecified).
85 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 3.

Review date: 10 Sep 2020