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Review: Nox (2019)

Nox is a thirteen-minute short made by nineteen-year-old writer/director Keyvan Sheikhalishahi. It’s his third film, after the feature Turba and another short Vesper. Quite surprisingly, given how natural the dialogue sounds, it’s his first film in English. It’s also a great film to watch but, due to its length and plot, not so easy to write about.

On election night Peter (Matt Passmore, Jigsaw, 13 Reasons Why) and Claire (Brigitte Millar, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Spectre), a pair of professional thieves, have a job to do. Break into a senator’s house and loot the contents of his safe. However, once inside, what we see seems to conflict with what we think we know. Especially when it turns out the house isn’t empty.

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Nox packs several layers and twists into its short running time. Every time you think you know what’s really going on, the story trips you up. More to the point, Sheikhalishahi manages to include them all without making the film feel cluttered or overly complicated. That can be hard enough in a feature, let alone a short running just under a quarter of an hour. That he can make it seem so easy at his age speaks well for his future in film.

The film has a look that’s as polished as its script. The cinematography by Jean-Claude Aumont is beautiful and has the look of a major studio film. Nox has a polished look that made me think of Hitchcock or De Palma and compliments the story perfectly.

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Like everything else, the performances in Nox are excellent. I can’t say a lot here without giving too much away, but I can say Passmore and Millar come off like the charismatic villains any good heist film needs.

Nox has had an incredible festival run so far, racking up a pile of awards. You can check for screenings and post-festival plans on the production company’s Facebook page. The director also has a blog, if you know French, you might want to check it out.

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