The Night Watch (2011)

The Night Watch (2011)
6.5
  • 923
  • TV-14
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release year: 2011 ()
  • Running time: 89 min
  • Original Title: The Night Watch
  • Voted: 923

In post-war London, Viv Pearce is dating Reggie and runs a dating bureau with Helen Giniver, who lives with her older lover, authoress Julia Standing. Viv's younger brother Duncan, a gay man made to feel ashamed of his orientation, has been in prison and is sought out by his ex-cell-mate, Robert Fraser, who served time as a conscientious objector and is now concerned for the young man's welfare. Viv encounters Kay Langrish, a wealthy, reclusive, butch lesbian and for both women this evokes memories of the period three years earlier (1944) when Kay was an heroic ambulance driver in a happy, loving relationship with Helen -- before Kay introduced her to her ex-lover Julia. At that time, Viv and Reggie are forced to procure the services of a dentist moonlighting as an abortionist. About to die from blood loss, and having been abandoned by Reggie, Kay saves her from prosecution by claiming she was a married woman who had miscarried. Three years before that (1941) Kay and Julia are still ...

#PersonCharacters
1Jenna AugenIris Knight
2Neal BarryMr. Bryant
3Claudie BlakleyNancy Carmichael
4Lucy BriersBinkie
  • Spellbinging stories of love and loneliness during the London Blitz by 9

    The Night Watch employs an unusual narrative structure (presumably duplicated from the novel by Sarah Waters) which begins in 1947, then flashes back not once but twice to show us how the large cast of characters came to arrive at the "end" of the story. This device isn't simply a flashy trick; it's integral to the movie's richly layered meditation on time and circumstance.

    Human relationships are the heart of the story, as we see various friends and lovers couple and decouple against the background of London during the Blitz and the aftermath of WWII. The atmosphere is dark and sensual, the music is mesmerizing, and the performances are riveting.

    I had the pleasure of seeing this movie at a film festival with no prior knowledge of it, and won't say anything more to spoil its wonderful surprises. I can only say, emphatically, that it should not be missed.

  • Moments of greatness by 7

    Adapting a book to the screen is tough. You need to be brutal, cutting away entire plot lines, even characters to serve your purpose. I haven't read The Night Watch but this adaptation shows all the signs of a too-reverential approach. That's a shame because it gets a lot of things right, a few breathtakingly so. In those moments, it's unlike anything I've seen. You could pitch it as Aimee and Jaguar meets The End of the Affair but at its best it's better than either of those films. It's Anna Maxwell Martin's portrayal of Kay Langrish that takes it to those heights. Claire Foy turns in a wonderful performance but she has less to work with. Unfortunately, The Night Watch is also saddled with at least one too many plot strands and a stunning miscalculation in thinking that Bath and or Bristol could double for wartime London. I know it's hard to find much of the capital that hasn't been tarted up since 1945 but west country stone and Georgian porticos, along with hills that put Lisbon to shame, don't fool anyone. And there are other misjudgments. There's a technical device which is used three times. You'll know it when you see it. The first use is amazing, emotionally spot on. The second is just confusing and the third downright clunky. As is some of the dialogue. "War changes people... and not necessarily for the better." In a book, that leadenly expositional second phrase may be necessary. In a film, it's amateurish. With a firmer, more demanding hand, this might have stood as a genuinely great work. Even as is, it's better than almost anything else you'll find on British or American TV so enjoy, despite the flaws. You won't regret it.

  • good version of OK novel by 7

    This is a feature-length adaptation of Sarah Water's book of the same name.

    I first came across Sarah Water's writing when I watch Tipping The Velvet on TV. I enjoyed the series so much that I then read the book, which was a great read. (I thoroughly recommend you read the book and watch the series - I don't think the order matters).

    I guess the reason that I wasn't bowled over by this drama stems from the fact that I am not a fan of the book. I read it a few months ago, and whilst I enjoyed it, it was nowhere near as good as Tipping The Velvet. I think the problem being that whilst it has interesting characters, the story just wasn't strong enough and it just seemed to pootle along without much direction.

    Saying that though, I would still recommend that you watch this drama as it is very atmospheric and the acting is on the whole good, especially the wonderful Anna Maxwell Martin, who is always very watchable, as is Clare Foy.

  • A Faithful Adaptation by 7

    I watched this quite literally minutes after finishing the book it's based on. With that in mind, I find that it is a very faithful adaptation of the book; only changing minor elements, mainly for the sake of cutting down scenes and giving more of a conclusive ending than the book. However, I'm not sure that this makes it a good movie.

    I enjoyed it thoroughly, but a lot of that was because I knew what was going on in the heads of each character in every scene. I had the narrative of the book backing up the long silent scenes. I feel like without knowing the book, it is a movie with sparing dialogue, and a lot of inference. It's more like looking at a set of well-crafted paintings than a guided journey.

    Still, as it is faithful to a rich source, it has excellent characters, which are the main structure of the story. I feel they did a good job with casting all-around, and in the end I felt like I got to experience rereading the book on fast-forward with new visuals.

  • Classy adaptation of a fine novel by 9

    A beautifully crafted adaptation of the Sarah Waters novel of the same name. An interesting narrative structure taken from the book, the story is experienced backwards in three periods in the characters lives, running from the post war section back in time to wartime experiences of love in the Blitz. All of the performances are terrific, understated and subtle they convey the complex emotional landscape of their intertwining lives and a point in history when the social landscape was shifting with women finding themselves empowered by the demands and experiences of wartime Britain, releasing them from their more traditional roles and allowing them to rise to address new challenges and experiences, both actually and emotionally. The casting, acting and beautiful camera work make this a real treat, with a lovely sense of place.

#PersonCrew
1David Katznelsoncinematographer
2Nina Humphreyscomposer
3Richard Laxtondirector
4Ann Tricklebankproducer
5Sarah Waterswriter
6Paula Milnewriter