Nocturama ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

A French Dawn of the Dead only with millennial terrorists as the heroes; it's mostly devoid of political content -- as disembodied from meaningful context, aside from some carefully ambiguous references to capitalism and history, as the sinister roundtable in the Lon Chaney oldie Ace of Hearts -- and delights in the perversity of its audience's all but automatic identification with a group of misguided and fearful characters, whose actions turn on a dime from benignly symbolic to unforgivably violent. Actually, Dawn of the Dead is too easy a comparison; let's go instead for the department store sequence in Modern Times, which also revolved around dancing on the edge of civilized society in a less amoral but no less subversive manner. In both cases, this feels like the only taste of real freedom the involved characters ever get, with the fear of capture and/or death constantly looming. Taken as a thriller, the whole thing is tantalizingly uneasy and stressful, even as its climax peaks with dread and inevitability (it never gets more tense than the shot of the homeless couple ascending the stairs, and the accompanying scream); as procedural or ensemble character study, it's fascinating and wrenching. I dug it even more than House of Pleasures while also finding it just as deeply unnerving.