Nocturnal review – girl meets older man in seaside drama

Lauren Coe and Cosmo Jarvis really sell this film about a sixthformer and a painter, but it’s way too contrived

There are good, sincere performances here, and it is directed with confidence. But I couldn’t make friends with this film because of some social-realist cliches and a contrived, high-concept plot. Nocturnal deserves praise for giving us a third act where so many films, of whatever sort, don’t. But this didn’t feel convincing.

Lauren Coe and Cosmo Jarvis do sterling work as the two leads. Laurie is a 17-year-old newcomer at her school in a seaside town; she is doing her best to fit in, and is part of the athletics track team. Pete is a painter and decorator in his 30s who is employed to work on some school outbuildings; he is a notorious philanderer and womaniser who hangs around the sports field and soon becomes obsessed with Laurie, and she – bored with her goody-two-shoes image – starts flirting with a handsome older guy. Their relationship progresses, though platonically, and it seems in some ways more meaningful than Pete’s one-night stands. Pete is strange and obsessively guilt-stricken when Laurie starts frankly suggesting sex: has he developed a conscience?

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