Nocturne parents guide

Nocturne Parent Guide

This grisly teen-centered tale might appeal to genre fans, but it's unlikely to appeal to mainstream audiences.

Overall D

Amazon Prime: Juliet has always been jealous of her sister Vivian's incredible piano talents, and has found a way to outshine her. But she isn't prepared for the price she's going to pay for success.

Release date October 13, 2020

Violence D
Sexual Content D
Profanity D
Substance Use D-

Why is Nocturne rated Not Rated? The MPAA rated Nocturne Not Rated

Run Time: 90 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Twins Juliet (Sydney Sweeney) and Vivian (Madison Iseman) are both talented pianists at a prestigious performing arts high school but that’s where the similarities end. Vivian is driven, extroverted, and highly competitive, and Juliet is far more reserved. Following the tragic suicide of fellow student Moira (Ji Eun Hwang), the lead spot for the annual concert has opened up, and the two sisters are now direct competitors. But Juliet has a trick up her sleeve – Moira’s bizarre and unsettling notebook, which seems to provide secrets to success, but at a steep price…

Although the film advertises the story as some kind of Faustian bargain, this is less about selling your soul to the devil for a few years of music and fast living, and more about the little things people sell out to succeed. All of Juliet’s small cruelties stack higher and higher, alienating her not only from her family and her teachers, but from the person she used to be. I think this is far more compelling than one of those “Whoops, sold my soul to Satan to win my high-school trophy!” kind of stories.

Not that Nocturne is something you’re going to want to watch with your teenager. It manages to pack in some unpleasantly graphic teen sex (although thankfully without nudity), extensive profanity, gory deaths, and some surprisingly high-test teen drug use. My least favorite scene involved a student finding a handful of used tampons in their mailbox – charming, right? It’s particularly unsavory to have teen characters involved in these content issues. Even aging up the cast and setting the story in college would provide some improvement – although not nearly enough. (There’s really nothing you can do to make a mailbox full of used tampons any less unpleasant short of cutting the scene.)

While this is on the more atmospheric-thriller end of things (which I tend to prefer), there are simply too many content concerns involved for me to be able to really recommend this to anyone. I suppose genre fans might find it interesting, but I can’t imagine that this has especially broad appeal to mainstream audiences. There are other thrillers with fewer issues and just as much atmospheric tension and intrigue, and even some with some good music. And for non-genre fans, I’m sure there are easier ways to spend an hour and a half that don’t involve grisly suicides. At least, I’d sure hope there are.

Directed by Zu Quirke. Starring Sydney Sweeney, Madison Iseman, and Brandon Keener. Running time: 90 minutes. Theatrical release October 13, 2020. Updated

Watch the trailer for Nocturne

Nocturne
Rating & Content Info

Why is Nocturne rated Not Rated? Nocturne is rated Not Rated by the MPAA

Violence: There are two graphic depictions of suicide with realistically gruesome depictions of the bodies. A student is slapped across the face by a teacher. Blood and used tampons are shown. An individual falls from a significant height and breaks an arm. A character plunges their hands into scalding water.
Sexual Content: There is a sex scene between two teenage characters. There are references to a sexual relationship between a teacher and a student. A crude drawing portraying sexual content is seen on several occasions.
Profanity: There are 19 uses of sexual expletives, 4 uses of scatological terms, and occasional use of terms of deity and mild profanity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults are shown drinking wine and smoking cigarettes. Teenagers are shown smoking weed, taking unlabeled pills which I assume to be MDMA, and trading bags of mysterious white powder which I suspect are cocaine.

Page last updated

Nocturne Parents' Guide

Why is Juliet so desperate to win the lead performance spot? Why does she lose her perspective? How does she hurt others and herself?  Have you ever lost your perspective on what kind of person you want to be? What ethical or religious principles ground you and stop you from behaving in ways that you consider wrong?

Loved this movie? Try these books…

Younger readers who are intrigued by the high intensity of professional classical music should check out Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez.

Home Video

Related home video titles:

A somehow more appropriate film about the cutthroat nature of the music industry is Whiplash. Black Box is another recent thriller, also distributed by Amazon, which has far fewer issues.

The challenges of succeeding in the arts while maintaining your life balance are frequently covered in films. A young woman manipulates her dance students to benefit her own dancing career in Feel the Beat. Another dancer and a pianist are desperate for spots in a Broadway production in High Strung Free Dance. Unsure about her admission to university, an academically focused senior talks her best friend into helping her start up a second school dance team in Work It. A musician and an aspiring actress struggle to balance their dreams and their relationship in La La Land.