FiLM REViEW: Cold Light Of Day, 1989

With ITV having both ‘Des’ and The Real ‘Des’ viewable on their on-demand streaming service currently, and having watched both recently, I thought I’d revisit this much older film on the same subject.

Cold Light Of Day is remarkable for several reasons, one being how much nearer to the crimes it was – Nilsen was arrested in 1983, the film came out in 1989. The other is that the director, Fhiona Louise was only 21, and still a student, when she made it. Knowing this, it’s really quite impressive.

A great camera angle.

But it must be admitted that, compared with the slicker bigger budget films made since, and all the new information that’s come to light – much of the more recent Nilsen stuff owes lots to the work of Brian Masters, who isn’t in this film at all; it depicts events prior to his involvement – this is a flawed depiction of the historical events.

But thanks to how close to those events it is, first it looks more authentically period, and second it’s impressive in how close it gets, given the more limited knowledge of it all and the only semi-pro nature of the production.

Greenhill is dreadful; Flag, is superb.

One of the most obvious markers of this as a semi-amateur work, in addition to the almost non-existent budget, is the rather overdone acting. Bob Flag* is excellent as Jordan March, the Dennis Nilsen character. But Geoffrey Greenhill, as Inspector Simmons, is – ironically- the worst offender! Or maybe the fuzz really do/did shout and bully suspects as he does?

Given that this was made by a 21 year old student, and almost certainly on a budget that wouldn’t cover the hot beverages on a normal movie, it’s actually extremely impressive. But, at the some time, given we’re all used to much higher production standards, it’s difficult not to find it a tad underwhelming, as well.

Still, it’s worth seeing.

*Bob Flag’s performance is what makes this film, frankly. Intriguingly he was the face of Big Brother in the John Hurt 1984 (a non-speaking part!). And he was a musician (possibly even a drummer?), on and off, as well as an actor. See him being pretty gonzo here.

Flag as Big Brother!

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