Review: ‘Nocturne’ sheds light on toxic competitiveness in a music school

“Nocturne” is now on Amazon Prime. Supplied
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Updated 24 October 2020

Review: ‘Nocturne’ sheds light on toxic competitiveness in a music school

CHENNAI: Rivalry in the art world is all too common, and Zu Quirke, in her directorial debut, tells audiences a fascinating story of hatred and jealousy between two siblings — twins, in fact — in “Nocturne,” now released on Amazon Prime as one of four horror features under the series “Welcome to the Blumhouse.” Playing along the lines of Darren Aronofsky’s 2010 psychological horror “Black Swan,” which opened the 67th Venice Film Festival, “Nocturne” also explores tension in the world of art. Where “Black Swan” revolved around ballet, however, “Nocturne” is set in a music school.

While the dangers of art academies are a recurring theme in cinema, “Nocturne” manages to go beyond these, examining the angst that comes with harming a sibling. In fact, I felt that the movie worked best where it stepped away from cliches. Quirke does a great job when she shows how competitive stress can break a person, pushing him or her to the edge. 

Teenage Juliet Lowe (Sydney Sweeney, whom we saw in “Euphoria”) is the ugly duckling, more gifted in her piano skills than in her looks. Her twin, Vivian (Madison Iseman, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”), older by a few minutes, is daringly sexy, a far more accomplished pianist and a darling of the school. She has a steady boyfriend, while Juliet is shy, introverted and has never been kissed. In one of the most dramatic scenes, she screams at her mentor, Roger (John Rothman): “I’ve never smoked a cigarette, and I’ve never owned a PlayStation!”  

When she chances upon a notebook left behind by a student labeled “Mad Moira,” whose death opens the movie, Juliet realizes that the Satanic drawings inside it give her a strange power as she caresses the keys of the piano. There is sheet music from a Saint-Saens piece that Vivian had planned to use in her audition. Juliet takes it as well to spite and upstage her sister. 




The film is the brainchild of British writer and director Zu Quirke. Supplied

The heated exchanges between the sisters are impressive and reveal a fair degree of acting skills. In one of them, Vivian spews: “We’re both failures. But I have an excuse. You are just mediocre.” Earlier, in a wicked move, Juliet gets her twin to slip and break her arm. Sweeney is admirable both as a docile girl and a scheming saboteur. Iseman is a formidable match, but the script does not give her enough room to fully show her range.

Nocturne ends on a tongue-in-cheek note — fitting for a rollercoaster of a film.


Nicole Scherzinger wows in Georges Chakra design

Updated 24 November 2020

Nicole Scherzinger wows in Georges Chakra design

DUBAI: Singer and television show host Nicole Scherzinger was spotted wearing a design from our neck of the woods this week to promote the hit show “The Masked Singer.”

The “Don’t Cha” hitmaker, who serves as a judge on the show alongside singer Robin Thicke, comedian Ken Jeong and model Jenna McCarthy, wowed viewers with a white, statement-making Georges Chakra pant suit from the Lebanese designer’s Spring 2019 couture collection.

The look boasted a plunging blazer with metallic details on the shoulders and sleeves and a cascading train. She paired the top with coordinating white, flared trousers. Scherzinger  elevated the look with a dusting of metallic, eye-popping powder across her lids to compliment her ensemble.

Chakra is one of Lebanon’s top couture designers. His gowns have graced runways in Paris and red carpets in Hollywood, while the entertainment industry’s top talent like Gabrielle Union, Jennifer Lopez and Letitia Wright regularly don his creations.  His designs have even been featured in films and television shows like “Gossip Girl” – Blake Lively’s character Serena van der Woodsen tied the knot in a dramatic strapless tulle gown designed Chakra in the show’s series finale. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Aug.4 Beirut explosion, Chakra didn’t unveil his Fall 2021 couture collection during the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode’s official Haute Couture week this year, but presented it in a digital format instead.

Much like his previous collections, the Fall 2021 couture offering was an amalgamation of expert tailoring, volume, ruffles, traces of lamé and rich fabrics such as lace, velour de soie, silk organza and gazar.

Meanwhile, Scherzinger isn’t the only A-lister to champion the Lebanese couturier in recent weeks. 

Model and cookbook author Chrissy Teigen was recently spotted wearing an all-white ensemble at a Pennsylvania rally for president-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris’ election campaign where her husband John Legend was performing. 

The look featured a tailored Chloe blazer worn over a bodysuit paired with a tulle tiered skirt from Chakra’s Fall 2020 couture collection. 

The designer’s creations also found a fan in British actress Kate Beckinsale, who recently attended this year’s Monte Carlo Gala for Planetary Health in Monaco wearing a white, asymmetric gown, which was plucked from the designer’s Fall 2019 couture collection.