No Night is Too Long (UK: 2002): Forgettable mystery involving a lad who no one can forget (apparently)

Lee Williams and Marc Warren: Blink and you'll miss the acting

Lee Williams and Marc Warren: Blink and you’ll miss the acting

The whole effort is blandly acted and forgettable. Need proof? I had forgotten I had watched it before.

Rating

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Since I have quite a few happy love story movies in queue to review this month, I thought it would be a good idea to watch at least one tale of a love gone horribly wrong. I checked the DVD releases for the month, saw No Night is Too Long among them and had it shipped over based on the synopsis. I guess I should have read more carefully as this was a re-release or re-stocking of a TV movie from 2002. I try not to delve too far back for reviews on this blog unless the movie is having a milestone anniversary during the year. But I figured I’d watch and review anyway. My mistake could mean something – I could be destined to watch No Night is Too Long. Fate may have been trying to tell me that this is the movie that would profoundly change my life. Sadly, no. Once I started watching, I realized that I had already seen the movie but forgotten it. I believe that is all one needs to know. You may enjoy this film, although enjoyment isn’t likely. Forgetting about it soon afterwards may be a plus.

No Night is Too Long is based on a 1994 novel by the same name from mystery writer Barbara Vine. Since it is a mystery/thriller, I promise not to spoil the plot. The story is framed as a confession by the lead actor, but to whom we do not know until the end. Nor do we know the exact nature of the crime. Tim Cornish (Lee Williams) is 24 year-old writing student who enjoys being with people who desire him, both men and women, but loses interest in them as soon as they say “I love you.” If this were a drama or a comedy we’d expect him to learn a life lesson or end up on a psychologist chair or somehow get to the root of this problem. But it is a mystery so his problem serves as a motive for…an unspecified crime. Someone has been following him and sending him cryptic letters about cannibalism. The likely suspects have all been victims of his habit of stoking other people’s desire only to lose interest.

The prime suspect for the letter writing terror is Ivo Steadman (Marc Warren), sexy paleontologist on Alaskan nature cruises, and Tim’s former lover. The first 40 minutes of the film tells the tale of how they met, fell into passion, and had a falling out. All of those scenes are narrated by Tim himself. While the film is told from Tim’s point of view, Tim’s voice-over serves to narrate a the love story, and honestly, if he didn’t tell us they were “in love”, I wouldn’t have believed him. The actors have very little chemistry together. Yes, they have sex, but honestly, if Ivo hadn’t started attacking Marc so viciously after Marc tried breaking it off, I wouldn’t have known that he cared. When Ivo isn’t being vicious, Warren’s portrayal of him is too wooden for believable passion. Marc, for all of his Casanova adventures, is a rather dull writer and opera lover. By the end of the affair, both Marc and Tim have motive for a crime of passion in name only, but it isn’t clear until well into the film that the crime is revealed. Something Marc did, obviously, because he’s the one confessing. You’ll have to wait to find out what that crime is. Since Tim is a liar and he’s doing most of the talking, good luck knowing for certain what he’s done.

The way the mystery unfolds is not the problem with No Night. There is a big twist ending that arrives so quickly that there isn’t much time to process the twist before the credits roll. I won’t find fault with the thriller for revealing a suspect we’d long ago dismissed as being involved with a crime, questioning the true motives of everyone involved. Unexpected twists are welcome. The problem with the film is the bland acting on the one hand and the inconclusive nature of that ending. The ending itself raises many possibilities that haven’t been explored in the film and leaving the solution to the mystery unclear at the end breaks a cardinal rule of the genre. As viewers, we watch mysteries to solve the puzzle and it’s a little unfair when film makers withhold the pieces.

 

 

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