Saturday, October 18, 2008


It has been years since I watched Nightwatch. I watched again last night and remembered why this film appealed to me. The plot was a bit predictable, but still had enough twists to keep you guessing. This film was interesting and at times riveting. With just a bit of tweaking this could have been a memorable film. The all star cast and interesting script made for two hours well spent.

Nightwatch tells the story of a law school student, Martin Bells (Ewan McGregor), in his final year (hopefully) of school. To help offset his bills he takes a job as a nightwatchman at the County Morgue. The midnight shift to make things interesting. His best friend James (Josh Brolin) is an odd character who feels like his youth is wasting away. He seems jut a bit off balance...but is he off balance enough to kill prostitutes after making them "play dead?" That is the question that begins to arise and threatens their friendship. Martin becomes the prime suspect in the search for a serial killer. The lead investigator (Nick Nolte) lets Martin know he doesn't believe Martin to be the killer...that he may be getting set up in order to release the real serial killer from suspicion. Wierd things begin happening during the night shift that have Martin crying "wolf" one too many times. As the investigation comes to a head, the characters begin unraveling the truth as their paths cross at inconvenient times.

This film was written and directed by Ole Bornedal whose credits include a dozen foreign films and television programs. His ability to create characters with depth and credible quirks made this movie interesting. Quirks create doubt, which can build suspense or keep you guessing which way the plot is going to break. The quirks that Bornedal injects his characters with are sometimes subtle but sometimes a bit more flagrant. These traits infuse believability into a script that tests the boundaries of plauisibility. The dialogue was interesting. The interactions between the characters seemed natural except in circumstances where the dialogue was intended to foster doubt or cause tension. I cared enough about the characters to remain interested and found most of the characters to be well developed and interesting.

The addition of a star-studded cast certainly made Nightwatch much more interesting. Watching Josh Brolin eleven or twelve years younger was amusing. I probably didn't even know who he was when I first saw this film. Nick Nolte on the other hand, has always been one of my favorites. Nolte delivered his typical solid tough guy performance with a little bit of an edge...something that seems to come natural for him. His performance along with Josh Brolin's were enough to keep me just enough off balance to be unsure of where teh plot was headed. Ewan McGregor carried this film and delivered a performance that was quirky enough to be odd but had an innocence that never really made me doubt his character. Patricia Arquette plays his girlfriend/fiance Katherine and did an excellent job of selling a wide range of emotions. Arquette had a smaller role but was exceptional in that role. Brad Dourif was a bit of distraction as a Duty Doctor who believes Martin is undermedicated and could use some help from the "Zine Family." Thorazine. Dourif didn't have many lines, but his appearance was interesting and certainly quirky.

Read More About Nightwatch

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