Written and Directed by #RichardWeston
This is one of those rare short films that genuinely takes your breath away with surprise. Richard Weston’s latest short film, Nocturne, is an emotional piece that holds the complexities of grief as its centre. The word ‘nocturne’ itself has a multitude of meanings here, all focused around protagonist Martin as he navigates the sadness of losing his wife to cancer. The script is heartbreakingly sweet and brutally honest as Weston cultivates a beautiful story about human struggle.
Martin and Claire (played by Augusta Woods) do not have a perfect relationship, but their love transcends their words. The film begins with them in a seemingly perfect and loving relationship and the camera is all over them, as they touch and poke fun at each other. Shots of this happy couple cut brutally to Martin looking at people falling in love in a bustling pub and he is alone. The audience isn’t sure where this scene falls in Martin’s timeline, but it leaves them questioning what has happened in the short time since they saw him with Claire.
The encounters Martin has with the supporting cast are brief but leave lasting impressions. His brief scene with an annoying drunk American man (David Menkin) reveal cultural and class differences that frustrate him, yet he says nothing in his sadness. Similarly, an array of family members and medical staff filter in and out of the scenery and mould Martin’s story around him. This storytelling is effective in allowing the viewer to guess his relationships, cementing his newfound solitude even further.
Claire is an enigma and the only character that Martin shows powerful emotion in front of. Weston’s chemistry with Augusta Woods allows both Martin and Claire to speak aggressively to each other to expel passion rather than anger. The script deals sensitively with relationship themes such as the fear of settling down, fear of loving too much, and then when worst fears are confirmed, the fear of confronting pain. When we find out the reality of Martin’s situation, the story aligns seamlessly. The audience sees Martin being forced to deal with loss in clever sequences of well-timed and sensitive shots. The camera is incredibly intimate, with many close-ups, and allows us to feel the scene more.
Likewise, music is also very powerfully timed in this piece. The beautiful piano score during special moments shared with Claire and scenes where Martin feels love contrast well with those silent scenes with no score at all. Weston has enabled such a clear distinction between perfect and brutal reality so that the music holds more power when it does begin to play. As the story unravels further, it begins to feel more and more like the camera and the music is Martin – as each shot and sound focuses entirely on what he is feeling and experiencing.
Towards the end of the film, Eva-Marie Kung gives a mysterious and hopeful edge to Martin’s story, as her characterisation is witty and clever in a way that he feels like he can confide in her. A shocking and subtle revelation closes this film out and makes you want even more from the story. This makes it very easy to want this film to be a feature length, but the real power in this story is that it is not over-explained. The audience is allowed to play out further action in their imagination, which is a marker of an excellent film.
Whilst there are many potential avenues and further plot points to explore with this story, Nocturne is an amazing balance of emotion, sensitively, humour and intellect all packaged up in less than twenty-five minutes. Richard Weston has done a fantastic job of bringing Martin’s story to life, making it well worth a watch.
Watch the trailer here: