We sat down with Bertrand Bonello shortly after the North American premiere of his controversial new film Nocturama, which competed at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival in their second annual Platform program (ultimately, the film went home emptyhanded, though it picked up some love at the San Sebastian Film Festival shortly after). Certainly not to everyone’s tastes, detailing as it does a methodical act of terrorism at the hands of a band of bored, suburban Parisian youths and their escape to a swank department store (leading some to dismissively describe the film as haute couture terrorism chic), Nocturama is undoubtedly an uncomfortable topical examination of modern terrorism.
Bonello comments on his particular soundtrack selections (including the use of a Shirley Bassey cover of “My Way,” which is widely regarded as a signature Sinatra song in the US, or Claude Francois in France, who composed the original music Paul Anka’s lyrics are set to) as well as the film’s retitling (originally known as Paris is a Feast). Commenting on the film’s focus on ambiguity over irony, the students framed as mobile versions of the static mannequins in the store, Bonello also discusses his characters’ obsession with time, his initial interest in the project, and its controversial handling in the selection process at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.
Grasshopper Film releases Nocturama on August 1th at the Metrograph and Film Society of Lincoln Center.