Saturday, January 28, 2012

Nightwatch (1997)

by DionysusPsyche

This bizarre little treasure I credit to Netflix. I'll be honest, it wasn't my first pick, but the cast of popular names struck my fancy, and I decided to give it a go.

Ewan McGregor stars as Martin Bells, a university grad student who takes what he assumes will be a boring position as a nightwatchman at a morgue. “I'll study,” he tells people, hoping to earn some easy cash for his daytime professional student on his way through law school.

Except, he won't.

The film starts by dividing Martin's life into two separate sections. The first is his social life—with his girlfriend (Patricia Arquette), his friend James (Josh Brolin), and James' girlfriend (Lauren Graham, Gilmore Girls). James comes off as a thrill-seeking dillhole who treats Lorelai Gilmore like trash (we're not sure why since she's clearly prettier and nicer and can hold her own better than Patricia Arquette). However, James admits that his interest, bemusement, and ability to feel things is beginning to wane. The world (and he's, what, in his twenties? So he sounds like a jerk) has become dull to him, and his way of living has become to challenge life which he encourages Martin to do as well.

The second part of Martin's life consists of his night job at the morgue, which at first seems like your average new job with its rules. The old night watchman (an American version of Bill Nighy) spooks him on his first walk through in a more interesting start than Night at the Museum instructing him on a few necessary items he'll need that the ad conveniently left out. After all, there is a murderer that has recently struck the town, as Inspector Thomas Cray (Nick Nolte) reports on the nightly ongoing news investigation.

After that, I was left guessing whether what Martin was seeing was really happening or if he was just starting to imagine things in the shadows and fears of the late hours and frightening backdrop. The movie draws his two worlds closer and closer together as Martin fears for his sanity, his dignity, and his life. It also includes what could become one of my favorite last lines of a movie ever.

I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. Early cameos by John C. Reilly and Lauren Graham were exciting, whereas I barely recognized Ewan McGregor and Josh Brolin. The acting is great, and the film portrayed excellent harbingers of death that brought to mind the later film The Sixth Sense. Keep in mind that there is nudity, violence, explicit language, and loud, scary music and screaming. An all around good movie.

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