Night Film by Marisha Pessl Review

night film book cover

It took me a long time to finish this novel by Marisha Pessl. I didn’t know of the writer before starting this book, and honestly, I’m fascinated by her. She’s beautiful. I wish I knew her, and could talk to her about books, writing, and more. That doesn’t change my opinion of this book, because I didn’t know what she looked like or what she had done before putting out “Night Film”. However, this book will become a movie, and has sold a ton of books, no doubt making the author rich. I wish I could be that big of an author, but I only get a fraction of a cent per word, not 50 cents a word like some other writers, even those writing for Vice. That’s neither here nor there. Night Film by Marisha Pessl is a 600 plus page novel that has been categorized as mystery, thriller, and noir. I can sense a lot of it, more noir and mystery than anything else. There are moments of horror, and something you would see from a modern pg-13 mystery, noir mix. Think of “Shutter Island” at times.

Woa! Sorry to stop your flow of reading. I wanted to interject and say that this is an older review. I know, old content isn’t always great. However, if you’re reading this, just know that this is a review that I wrote after reading the book in 2018. I’m working on 2019’s reviews, and will post them as I can, but this is from my archives. Sorry to break up the flow again, just continue reading, and please try the fish! I mean, buy the book.

A reclusive director’s daughter commits suicide, and a disgraced journalist wants to know what is going on, and will not take “no” for an answer. Alongside an aspiring actress with jouvenaline tendencies, Nora, and a slacker simpleton named Hopper, Scott McGrath moves through a detective story from a journalist that will most likely not be able to come out of this alive, if powers that be won’t let him.

The book reads like a detective novel. There’s a first person narrative throughout, and there’s a lot of simple moments. Lots of interviews, lots of stories, and twists that aren’t too violent. Yes, there are moments where McGrath fights, but this is not the kind of noir tale that involves a lot of boxing, and fights. It’s slow burning, and you have to invest in a lot of chapters before you start to truly feel the twist of the knots that Pessl puts together. Pessl does well with the pacing. The pacing of this novel is incredible for me, as it was like a slow kiss that would turn into sex, then stop to gaze into eyes, and explore the heat, and senses of what is going on.

Then it pulls away, and vanishes. Pessl draws you into a landscape of mystery, then yanks the carpet, and turns into a thriller, before going into science fiction or religious experimental fiction, before coming back around to a detective element, and finally, noir. There are elements of horror, there are elements of high tension, sexual elements, and more. Pessl paints such lovely pictures at times, and at others, drops you off in front of stick figures.

Unlike other stories that I’ve read this year, this book is a slow burning thriller, then speeds up towards the center point, and slows down to such a stall, it feels like an amusement park ride. Pessl does so well with the pacing up front, then speeds up too much at times, before you are lost and have to go back and think about what you just read. However, McGrath and Nora’s friendship, and Hopper’s aloofness brings you back to finish the book, because there’s a lot of interesting points of tension. It reads like you’re watching your favorite movies, at moments it’s “The Big Lebowski”, at others it’s “Rushmore”, and sometimes you feel like you’re following Kubrick’s “The Shining”, only to find yourself wrapped up in your own visual narrative.

I liked this book a lot. However, I don’t know anyone else that likes this book, or has even read it. In fact, I mentioned this book to 11 craigslist responses that I wrote trying to find friends online. Not one read it, and 1 returend with the statement: “You should try watching tv, books are boring, and you’re not going to find friends if you keep reading so many books”. It’s a head trip at times, it’s smart, and sometimes it’s so simple. I loved it. But I don’t know if anyone else will. It’s a slow burning, twisting story, with a lot of first person narration, and gritty noir points that are quite fascinating at times, but can be boring for others.

You can purchase “Night Film” by Marisha Pessl by clicking here.

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