No reporter can resist a siren.
With its labyrinthine plot and hard-boiled voice-over, film noirish thriller Manhattan Night (aka Manhattan Nocturne) is a throwback to an earlier era – and so is its protagonist.
Adrien Brody’s jaded Bogart-like hero, Porter Wren, is a New York tabloid newspaper columnist (less of a rarity when Colin Harrison’s source novel (opens in new tab) was first published in 1996), highly conscious that he belongs to a dying breed. ‘I’m an endangered species,’ he says near the start of the film.
He become more literally endangered, however, when Yvonne Strahovski (opens in new tab)’s ice-blonde femme fatale, Caroline Crowley, inveigles him into investigating the mysterious year-old death of her brilliant filmmaker husband (Campbell Scott). Sure enough, the case soon thickens, putting his wife (Jennifer Beals) and two young children at risk from goons sent by Steven Berkoff’s loathsome media mogul (a ringer for Rupert Murdoch).
Some viewers will find the plot - which involves sexual obsession, deception and stacks of enigmatic video cards - too twisty for the film’s good, but the payoff surprises by extending sympathy in unexpected directions. Besides, the stars really do look the part, with Brody making a convincingly dogged sleuth, while Strahovski (cold-hearted Serena Joy in The Handmaid’s Tale) is every inch the dangerously seductive siren.
Certificate 15. Runtime 109 mins. Director Brian DeCubellis
Manhattan Night debuts on Sky Cinema Premiere on Monday 4 September.
A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.
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