Ninety years old, the clock ticking away the slow processes of his life and the chimes a painful cacophony to his ears, Ulises cannot remember what he is doing but has moments of clarity, of comprehension, memories breaking through of his childhood spent playing with his friends around their mansion in the countryside, laughing in sunshine long since faded to dusk.
Estranged from their daughter, contact with their son intermittent, living with his wife Dalia, as infirm as he and fearful of leaving the apartment, refusing visitors and convinced the tenants association wish them gone, Ulises’ only regular contact with the outside world is through the patient concierge of the block until the night of the storm when the woman from upstairs came banging on the door, hysterical and demanding entrance.
A film told in two parts, writer/director Gonzalo Calzada’s Nocturna is released simultaneously as Side A: The Great Old Man’s Night (La noche del hombre grande) and Side B: Where the Elephants Go to Die (Donde los elefantes van a morir), more experimental and abstract, twenty-three brief segments offering glimpses into the characters and their lives before and during the tragedy of the primary narrative.
A home which was once filled with love now tainted by decades of secrets, resentment and regret, Pepe Soriano is Ulises and Marilú Marini is Dalia with Jenaro Nouet and Mora Della Veccia representing their childhood selves, the dreams and needs still trapped within their aging and aching bodies, and Desirée Salgueiro is Elena, the photographer who lives above them, decades younger than them but her life no less filled with overwhelming sadness and desperation, having no one to anchor herself to.
A nightmare of the purgatory of walking the same rooms for eternity, of wearing the same clothes, having the same conversations, the ghosts and the dying inhabit the same space of Nocturna, looking for an exit without offering atonement, a pitiful cry from the edge of the abyss from voices as unique and ephemeral as clouds.
The two parts of Nocturna stylistically different, the second presented as worn celluloid, speckled and bleached, Elena reminiscing of the romance of chemical photography and it’s supposed ability to capture spirits, it is a companion piece which offers additional perspectives but no answers or explanations, an unnecessary counterpoint to a piece which would already benefit from abbreviation rather than expansion.
Nocturna Side A and Side B are available now on Digital Download