LIFF28 - Nocturna - Cinema Review

'an almost Burton-esque plot that doesn't make a whole heap of sense and is too labyrinthine for its target audience'

Beautifully drawn but occasionally very sketchily executed, Spanish animation Nocturna feels like a case of some good work marred by a handful of technical and story-level problems.

When the film works, it works on the level of a simple fable to explain the sounds of the night to young children. One of the best scenes directors Adrià García and Víctor Maldonado come up with involves an orchestra of window scratchers and gutter rollers being conducted, lulling the world into sleep. As very occasional beautiful diversions like this crop up, the core plot sees a young boy, Tim drawn into the twilight world of Nocturna, as he hunts for the reason behind the stars disappearing.

Partnering with Cat Shepherd, a hulking herder of felines, each assigned to one of us to keep us safe at night, Tim makes his way through an almost Burton-esque plot that doesn't make a whole heap of sense and is too labyrinthine for its target audience. Mr. Pee's motivations, for example, don't make sense and something this simple didn't need the complexity of working out quite which side Moka - the head of Nocturna - is on.

The main problem however is the English dub which, although it works in terms of matching the lip movements of the animated characters, is so poorly performed and translated that it distracts immediately and throughout. You can understand why LIFF went with the English voices, instead of the international ones, with the film largely aimed at the very young, but, then again, Grave Of The Fireflies screened here a few years ago with the original Japanese voice cast and largely seemed to go down very well. It would be interesting to see Nocturna subtitled in order to make a judgement on just how much here was lost in translation. I suspect the answer may turn out to be: 'quite a bit'.

The 28th Leeds International Film Festival runs from 5th-20th November 2014 at cinemas around the city, including Hyde Park Picture House and Leeds Town Hall. Tickets and more information are available via the official LIFF website.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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