Nocturama ★★★★★

Second viewing confirms that this work is major, even if I still can't fully explain why. It's powerfully apolitical -- the heavyhanded ideological motivations here are both funny and tragic in how misguided they come off as. In doing so, it kind of perfectly captures the state of youthful iconoclasm: this could've taken place in any city, with any group of teenagers to similar results -- and nothing would really change. It is terrorism as romantic but also absolutely hopeless -- emphasized in full by the clean precision and coldness of the film's denouement, which offers up the most petrifying catharses of recent memory. Insane how repitition plays into this -- not only building on the tension and giving a rhythm and chronology to the whole thing, but also in how it isolates each moment and places them relative to each other.

Bonello's use of setting to define and develop his character is absolutely brilliant. Each section of the mall contorts and twists to suit each different character -- and the use of costuming as camoflage to some stunningly mundane production design and mannequins as mirrors into characters well-defined in their blandness to further accentuate this is a stroke of genius. Characters blend into their backgrounds, and inhabit the machine that they protest. Their bonds to capitalism and popular culture are exposed -- these kids aren't exactly martyrs, and they're too superficial to really be terrorists. Even if the anger feels particularly half-assed, the regret, and the self-denial of the regret feels grounded and true.

The film features some of what will inarguably be some of the best scenes of the year. Its collected soundtrack creates the most irreverent music videos (specifically, Paris burning to Whip My Hair, but also the raw energy of the Call Me number (in which Manal Issa absolutely kills it)) and the fact that Bonello makes time for them is just as badass as the fact that they exist. His combination of mediums is hit-or-miss (really only kind of out of place in two browser-incorporating scenes), but when it hits, it really hits.

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