The piano. What a marvelous instrument indeed. Capable of telling incredible stories of emotion by conjuring a never-ending combination of tones and melodies - the ups, downs, and crescendos of life captured and sent reverberating through the airways. Never-ending amounts of stories and emotions all within a few feet of one another, waiting to be played out to an audience. The piano... a perfect way to introduce Martin and Claire at their best, through their worst, and straight into the nightmare of a cancer diagnosis. This is a review of "Nocturne" from writer, director, Richard Weston.
After a quick glimpse of the starring couple on what looks to be their wedding night, we're transported to what could be the pub around the corner from your very own house - with all the fixings. This is where we really meet Martin for the first time, along with that night's version of Barney from "The Simpsons." After just witnessing what must have been an amazing wedding night, it's a little jarring to see the person who is clearly our leading man so sad and defeated. Did the couple get in a fight? Did they split up? As if on queue, the scene changes and we get to witness a little tiff between the movie's lovebirds. Martin and Claire are having issues it seems and for a brief instant, the audience is led to believe this will be a love story. A story of hardships followed by the inevitable reconnection of two soul-mates. While it is safe to say that "Nocturne" is a love story, it doesn't go in the direction you may be thinking, and we soon learn that Claire has stage four cancer. I won't spoil the rest of this short film but will say that although love plays a huge part in this film, it's not the only narrative Richard Weston is pushing. This is a story of sorrow. This is a story of grief and yes reader, this is also a story of hope. All woven into a high impact, twenty-minute short film.
On a technical level, "Nocturne" looks and sounds great with some excellent cast performances that really bring you into the movie. Richard Weston and Augusta Woods shine as Martin and Claire - but also manage to remind us of one key thing... love doesn't always mean complete harmony. Their screentime together feels natural and anything but scripted, and is the perfect springboard for what happens next. We also have a character that doesn't enter the film until the final act - a woman who not only acts as Martin's confidant, but offers that element of hope I wrote about above. The correct casting for this character was crucial to make this film work, and work it did. I also can't forget the drunk at the pub, John, who single-handedly reminded me of why I don't get out much - and why I should. We all need a good laugh at a drunk person's expense from time to time - especially when things are tough.
Here's the thing reader... "Nocturne" delves into some pretty dark territory and being a short film, that dive happens quite fast. Depression, grief, and even guilt are huge parts of this story it's true. But even bigger are the themes of letting go and as I've written before... hope. Richard Weston and his troupe have put forth a film that sends out balancing, and counter-balancing emotions like the natural and minor notes of a well-played piano. Simply put, "Nocturne" is a nicely put together, well-acted short film that I would recommend to anyone interested. Four stars.