Night Film is Marisha Pessl’s second novel about a New York investigator who gets in over his head when searching for the truth behind the mysterious “suicide” of a famous movie director’s daughter. While looking for evidence and an angle on his story, the main character meets and then teams up with two other characters who help him uncover clues as the three go further and further down the rabbit hole toward the “truth”. Along the way, the three uncover conspiracies, possible murder, black magic and even find their own lives in danger.
According to Wikipedia, Pessl had three failed attempts at writing a novel before Special Topics in Calamity Physics was published and became a bestselling success. While I haven’t read the first book, both novels it seems have a storyline that, at least in part, revolves around a twisted father-daughter relationship. This novel definitely shows Pessl’s in depth knowledge of film and their actors. As a fellow lover of films, I appreciated the detail and homage that was made to movies and to the actors that make them magical. Much of the story revolves around this director’s very dark films and many of the films that the director in the story had made were described in detail. There were times where I found it hard to remember that it was actually the author who had “written” these films and not the director in the story. In other words, I was completely drawn into the story.
Pessl writes with a certain poetic tone at times, which made the movies within the novel seem very real. I felt that there were times where this poetic tone was overused while, on the other hand, it caused the reader to begin to question reality and wonder where the movie ends and real life begins. Much of the novel felt like a head-trip and I begin to feel like I had had a similar feeling while reading another novel. Finally, I realized that the other novel that I was thinking of was 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. 1Q84 was a novel that I enjoyed very much because it also had a very poetic tone to it causing the reader to question reality. Another similarity that I found between the two novels was that neither had an ending that really answered all of the questions that came up in the novel. With both novels you are left having to be satisfied with knowing that while you may not know the answers that the main characters do so that is all that matters.
Night Film is another novel that I listened to so I would say that I for the most part enjoyed the narrator’s performance but there were times when the main character’s voice and the voice of the sidekick sounded too similar to be distinguishable. There were also moments that I felt like should have been delivered differently, with either more emotion or a different emotion.
I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy a good thriller but also appreciate a more poetic, perhaps even feminine, approach to the usual male dominated book genre. I do not regret listening to the book but I feel that you would get just as much, if not more, out of reading it instead.