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France 1989
Directed by
Alain Corneau
106 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Nocturne Indien

Jean-Hugues Anglade plays Rossignol, a 30-something man on a search for a lost friend, Xavier, in India. Well that is the purported motive for his travels but as we find out, the quest is more self-reflexive than actual.

Nocturne Indien clearly owes much to its source, a novel by Antonio Tabucchi which I have not read but it is evidently cross-related to some significant reference points of 20th century Western spiritual questing. Theosophy and the writing of Herman Hesse bulk large in the dialogue, leaving little doubt about the narrative’s oblique intent whilst the form of the film, which Corneau has made largely in English, successfully conveys the hypnagogic state which no doubt was the key note of the novel nicely enhanced by the use of the slow movement from Schubert's String Quintet in C Major.

Sometimes this abstracted, dreamlike quality which may have worked on the printed page comes across as forced when literally embodied, particularly during the exchange between Rossignol and Vimla Sar, the prostitute who allegedly knew Xavier, but for the most Anglade’s focussed performance and the other-worldliness of the settings, beautifully photographed by Yves Angelo, carry it off. The final section which involves a chance encounter with a beautiful French photographer (Clémentine Célarié) is probably a little improbable for its own good, at least on the screen, but what has gone before has enough integrity to merit attention. 

DVD Extras: None 

Available from: Madman




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